Free Nurbek Kushakbayev! Support independent workers’ organisation in Kazakhstan!

By Gabriel Levy - People and Nature, April 19, 2017

Trades unionists have launched an international campaign for the release of Nurbek Kushakbayev, who was jailed this month for his part in organising strike action in the western Kazakhstan oil field.

A court in Astana, the Kazakh capital, sentenced Kushakbayev to two-and-half years in jail, followed by a further two-year ban on organising.

Kushakbayev is a trade union safety inspector at Oil Construction Company (OCC), an oilfield service firm based in Mangistau, western Kazakhstan. He is also deputy president of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan, which the government banned last year under a law designed to straitjacket unions not controlled by the state.

In January, workers at several oil companies in Mangistau staged a hunger strike in protest at the ban on union federation, to which their workplace organisations were affiliated. Dozens of participants in the hunger strike were arrested. Most were released without charge, but Kushakbayev and another union organiser at OCC, Amin Yeleusinov, were arrested and secretly transported to Astana, more than 1000 kilometres to the east. Yeleusinov is still awaiting trial.

The tragedy of American science

By Cliff Connor - Socialist Action, April 17, 2017

The Earth Day 2017 March for Science signals resistance to Donald Trump’s sharp infusion of irrationality into the national discourse. Official support for climate-change denial and other anti-science agendas has suddenly become much more explicit. At the same time, many protestors recognize a continuity linking Trump’s bizarre bluster with a pre-existing condition sometimes referred to as the “Republican war on science.”

But the problems at the root of the tragedy of contemporary American science—its corporatization and militarization—are not ones for which either the Democratic or Republican parties can offer solutions.

Describing science as tragedy would have seemed peculiar to most people as recently as the first half of the 20th century. The reputation of science was then golden. The expectation that modern science could and soon would solve all of humanity’s problems was almost universal.

That benign image received a double jolt during the Second World War. First came the horrors of Nazi racial science and its accompanying technology of human extermination. That was followed by the advent of the nuclear age in the instant incineration of a hundred and thirty thousand inhabitants of two Japanese cities. J. Robert Oppenheimer, one of the atomic bomb’s creators, invoked the name of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, to signal the emergence of science’s ominous dark side.

EcoWobbles - EcoUnionist News #150

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, April 21, 2017

A smorgasbord of news of interest to green unionists:

America's Wind Energy Boom May Finally Be Coming to the Southeast - By Lyndsey Gilpin, InsideClimate News, April 13, 2017 - By the end of 2016, the wind industry supported more than 100,000 jobs. But the Southeast has almost completely been left out of that boom.

As Chernobyl anniversary looms, group works to improve worker and animal wellbeing - By staff, Beyond Nuclear, April 17, 2017 - The Clean Futures Fund, co-created by Beyond Nuclear Board member, Lucas Hixson, with Erik Kambarian, is working with Ukrainian partners to improve safe working conditions and long-term care for Chernobyl workers and individuals in the affected areas.

Chicago staff want a meeting with EPA head after leaked report targets their office for closure - By Mark Hand, ThinkProgress, April 18, 2017 - The employees want to discuss rumors that the Trump administration plans to close the Chicago Region 5 office. Reports surfaced last weekend that the Region 5 office would be one of two EPA regional offices closed to meet the administration’s budget-cutting goals for the agency.

In Coal Country, Environmental Regulations Are Creating Jobs - By Glynis Board, NPR, April 13, 2017 - The Whites employ about 30 people, many of them displaced miners. They travel across the region fixing broken streams with backhoes and other heavy machinery. The National Mitigation Banking Association, a trade group, says ecological restoration is a $25 billion industry.

The Energy of Tomorrow Looks Strikingly Artistic from Above - By Rachel Brown, National Geographic, March 23, 2017 - And in the United States last year, solar employed more people than traditional coal, oil, and gas combined.

Forest industry workers and environmentalists rally for sustainable forestry - By Torrance Coste, et. al., Wilderness Committee, April 12, 2017 - Workers from the BC forest industry, First Nations’ representatives, environmental activists, and citizens rallied at the BC Legislature today. The diverse coalition called for a ban on raw log exports and a transition to sustainable second growth forestry.

Global experts say the economic case for renewable energy has never been stronger - By Mike De Souza, National Observer, March 20 2017  - And through 2050, the decarbonization can fuel sustainable economic growth and create more new jobs in renewables."

Grains piled on runways, parking lots, fields amid global glut - By P.J. Huffstutter and Karl Plume, Reuters, April 11, 2017 - Farmers face similar problems across the globe. World stockpiles of corn and wheat are at record highs. From Iowa to China, years of bumper crops and low prices have overwhelmed storage capacity for basic foodstuffs.

Harvesting Union Rights in the Field - By Sonia Singh, Labor Notes, April 17, 2017 - But unlike most guestworkers, many in North Carolina have a say in their working conditions and seniority rights because they belong to a union, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee.

Investors who profit as oil workers face repression - By Gabriel Levy, People and Nature, APril 19, 2017 - The companies that this month helped to jail trade union leader Nurbek Kushakbayev are linked, via Kazmunaigaz, Kazakhstan’s state-controlled oil and gas firm, to Chinese and international capital.

Kazakh Oil Construction Company cracks down on union activists - By staff, IndustriALL, April 7, 2017 - In a recent episode, large-scale repression was launched against leaders and activists of the independent trade unions affiliated to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in the Mangystau region, in the west of the country.

NFU commemorates April 17th: International Day of Peasants' Struggle

By staff - La Via Campesina, April 18, 2017

(Saskatoon, April 17, 2017) -  On April 17th, 1996, 19 peasants were killed when military police in Pará, Brazil attacked members of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) who were blockading a highway in order to demand agrarian reform. Two more people died from their injuries several days later, and hundreds were so seriously injured that they could not go on working in agriculture. La Via Campesina, which was then in the midst of holding its second international conference in Tlaxcala, Mexico, declared April 17th to be the International Day of Farmers' and Peasants' Struggle

La Via Campesina is the international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. It defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) International Programming Committee (IPC) joins in commemorating the International Day of Peasants' Struggle by continuing to work to broaden the NFU's understanding and analysis of the global food system, by better understanding the impact of Canadian agricultural policy on farming families both domestically and globally, and by sharing information and experiences among farmers and their allies in other countries. 

We stand in solidarity with peasants around the world who face threats and discrimination, persecution and violence and we support the advance toward the UN Declaration of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas.  

In July 2017, in the Basque Country, La Via Campesina will hold its 7th International Conference.  Several members of the NFU will attend this important conference to deepen our understanding and analysis of the struggles faced by peasants and farmers, and work to strengthen our movement.

Review: The Anarchist Roots of Geography

From Notes toward an International Libertarian Eco-Socialism - Originally posted at Marx and Philsophy*, March 28, 2017

In The Anarchist Roots of Geography, a “proverbial call to nonviolent arms,” Simon Springer discusses some of the past, present, and future relationships between anarchism and geography. He mobilizes the thought of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Peter Kropotkin, Elisée Reclus, and Lev Tolstoy to denounce global capitalism and oppression—declaring, with Kropotkin, that anarchism is “what geography ought to be”—while also affirming the more contemporary approaches of Saul Newman and Todd May, who have advanced the idea of “post-structuralist anarchism” in opposition to classical approaches through a turn to thinkers like Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Jacques Derrida, and Judith Butler, among others. Springer therefore presents his own perspective as amounting variably to “anarchism without adjectives” or “post-anarchism,” neither of which is the same. The former refers to the synthesist approach favored by Voline and others in opposition to the anarcho-communist Platformism advanced by Nestor Makhno, Peter Arshinov, and other exiled militants following the defeat of the Russian Revolution. Post-anarchism, a more recent development, integrates the nihilism, irrationalism, and defeatism of postmodern analyses in expressing opposition to social revolution and universalism as “totalizing narratives.” In this way, while The Anarchist Roots of Geography provides many compelling insights, it itself presents a synthesis of a number of anarchist or anarchistic approaches that cannot so readily be melded together.

Springer’s main project in this volume is to bring geography back to its radical anarchist roots, thus issuing a course correction of sorts beyond those set by the hegemonic presence of Marxists within academic geography departments starting in the late 1960s. The author presents the works of Kropotkin and Reclus as luminous alternatives to the ethnocentrism and state-centricity that has plagued the discipline since its origins. Springer wishes to wield anarchism, defined as the practice of mutual aid with the concern for universal geography in mind, to undermine statism, capitalism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, imperialism, and speciesism (or anthroparchy). For him, anarchism is the “only meaningful form of postcolonialism” (38), as the State-form effectively continues colonization even after formal independence, and—following Reclus—it must centrally express concern for the integrity of the planetary system by means of nature conservation, vegetarianism, and opposition to animal cruelty. Springer here traces the philosophical arc linking Reclus with social ecology and the animal-rights and animal-liberation movements. The author holds that direct action, cooperation, and prefigurative politics can allow humanity to affiliate by free federation, reestablish equality among humans, rebuild the commons, and overturn the domination of nature. Taking after Proudhon (1840), who analyzed property as originating in the Roman concept of sovereignty, or patriarchal despotism, Springer defines property as violence and calls for insurrection—but not revolution—against oppression. Echoing Reclus, he emphasizes the place of beauty in the struggle, citing Albert Einstein’s view that “[o]ur task” must be to “wide[n] our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty” (137), and he declares the importance of unity for anarchy, in parallel to the teachings of Taoism, Buddhism, and Baruch de Spinoza.

Standing Rock in Tacoma, Washington

By Sarah Morken - The North Star, April 16, 2017

Tacoma has been one of the main dumping grounds for polluting industry in western Washington. We are home to nine EPA Superfund clean up sites.

This week we gathered on the Tacoma tide flats outside outside the site where Puget Sound Energy (PSE) is preparing to build the nations largest fracked gas storage plant (Liquid Natural Gas or LNG). There were members of the Puyallup Tribe, Standing Rock Tribe, the Palouse Tribe and their non-native allies from local political and environmental groups. We were about 50 people coming and going. The protest was hosted by Tacoma Direct Action and sponsored by Redline Tacoma, Save Tacoma Water and Green Party Tahoma. This was the first local protest actually at the site.

Takes More Than Prayer

James Rideout, member of the Puyallup Tribe and geoduck diver started the protest with a prayer and a song, with help from Jesse Nightwalker a member of the Palouse Tribe. James asked how far we were willing to go to fight this project, reminding us that it was going to take more than prayer, reminding us about what happened in Standing Rock.

ILWU

We stood on the four corners at the intersection located between the LNG site and Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE). TOTE is supposedly one of the primary customers of the LNG. We handed out flyers to Longshore workers (ILWU 23) as they drove through the gate at TOTE and also to other port workers as they drove by. Some of the cars drove past without stopping, but many of them took our flyers. Most of them were not even aware of the project. They weren’t aware that their union leadership supports the project. The decision to support LNG was voted on at a general membership meeting without effort to truly inform the members on the issue. The union has been helping with the million dollar greenwashing campaign for PSE.

Interestingly, ILWU 23 sent a delegation with supplies and money to Standing Rock showing solidarity with the Water Protectors against the oil and gas industry there. Can the dockworkers be convinced to stand in solidarity with the Puyallup Tribe right here at home? Or will they instead support the the oil and gas industry? In my opinion, it would be helpful if Puyallup Tribe members ask their Tribal Council to set up a meeting with ILWU 23 and have a conversation about this. As union members, as the working class, our natural allies are fellow exploited/oppressed/discriminated people, like Native Americans, not Puget Sound Energy!

Plane Stupid wants police spies out of our lives!

By staff - Plane Stupid, April 4, 2017

Crowdjustice appeal launched by social justice campaigner/ Plane Stupid member Tilly Gifford

https://www.crowdjustice.org/case/undercover-policing-scotland/

UNDERCOVER POLITICAL POLICING & SCOTLAND

The Home Office has failed to extend the Undercover Policing Inquiry into Scotland and the Scottish Government has failed to order its own public inquiry into #spycops. I am taking them to Court to make sure an Inquiry is held into Undercover Political Policing in Scotland. 

On 16th July 2015 Theresa May, then Home Secretary, announced a public inquiry into undercover policing. This announcement followed revelations that police officers involved in spying on political campaigners had used the names of dead children to create their new identities. They had long term, intimate relationships with women, fathered children, and in some cases acted as agent provocateurs.

We know that these activities were also carried out in Scotland.

For example,  during the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in 2005 the Metropolitan Police sent undercover police officers across the border.  
In addition, English undercover officers also had intimate relations with a number of women they targeted in Scotland, a repeated human rights violation made by the Metropolitan Police Service that they have publicly apologised for.
[1]
 
Extending the Pitchford Inquiry to Scotland

Despite dozens of activists having been verified as being spied upon in Scotland,[2] the public inquiry into these violations has been limited only to England and to Wales.[3] 

The Home Office failed to extend the Undercover Policing Inquiry into Scotland. The Scottish Government also failed to order its own public inquiry into these issues. As a result, I am taking them to Court to make sure an Inquiry is held.

Through the Pitchford inquiry, communities in Wales and England who have suffered extreme abuses of their Right to Private Life, have the chance to have light shed on such violations carried out by the State. As it stands now, people in Scotland have no such recourse to truth or accountability.

This court case is not just to highlight one person who was spied on, but to highlight the case of hundreds of people who deserve a public inquiry into this abuse of police power in Scotland also. We seek truth and justice.

Colonialism, climate change and the need to defund DAPL

By Amy Hall - Open Democracy, April 16, 2017

Back in 2009, when I was an undergraduate student, I went to a talk given by Eriel Tchekwie Deranger of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation which had a significant impact on my understanding of environmental justice.

This was the first time I had been awoken to the devastation of the tar sands in Canada. I knew that massive fossil fuel projects were bad news for the climate but what stuck with me was the impact of the tar sands on the people and their land. Why wasn't something being done to stop it? Aside from the relentless march of fossil fuel extraction and consumption, there's money to be made and the people in the way are poor and not white.

From Nigeria to North America, many of the people on the frontline of struggles against extraction projects are black, brown or from indigenous communities. Recently one of these, the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) has been making headlines.

The $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline travels 1,168 miles from North Dakota to Illinois, where it will join up with a second 774 mile pipeline to Texas. It will carry up to 570,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day once it is up and running, which could be within weeks.

If the pipeline, which is laid underneath the Missouri River, fails it will pollute a vital water source for the Standing Rock Sioux people and thousands of others. This threat is very real. Sunoco Logistics, one of the companies behind DAPL has had more than 200 leaks since 2010, according to Reuters. DAPL was re-routed away from Bismarck, a mostly white community, partly because of water pollution fears.

People of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe have been joined in their resistance by thousands of other indigenous people from across the region, as well as allies. At its peak, an estimated 10,000 people joined the water protectors at spiritual camps: Sacred Stone, Oceti Sakowin and others.

EcoWobbles - EcoUnionist News #149

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, April 14, 2017

A smorgasbord of news of interest to green unionists:

Big Coal’s last-ditch effort won’t save the industry - By Natasha Geiling, Think Progress, April 6, 2017 - “There is an overall direction of travel here that is very clear, and yet we have an administration that keeps insisting that what they are doing is going to bring these jobs back,” Light said. “This administration keeps selling these coal communities a false bill of goods, and using them as part of the window dressing for killing off these regulations.”

B.C. Government Scientists Say Staff Cutbacks, Outsourcing and Political Interference Threaten Public Health and Safety - By Judith Lavoie, DeSmog Canada, April 7, 2017 - Since the Liberal government was elected in 2001, B.C.’s public service has been reduced to the smallest per capita in Canada and departments with science-based mandates have lost 25 per cent of staff scientists and licensed expert positions, according to the survey, which was partially funded by the Professional Employees Association.

Bullish on Renewable Energy: Investors Argue Trump Can’t Stop the Revolution - By Leslie Kaufman, Inside Climate News, April 4, 2017 - It would be a tremendous economic tragedy for the new administration to miss the opportunity China sees and not go after this tremendous—and much needed—job creation."

Canadian study: transition to renewables 'irreversible.' But U.S. needs to accelerate transformation - By Meteor Blades, Daily Kos, March 31, 2017 - The Canadian group said that, globally, about 6.7 million people have jobs in renewables. The solar industry alone is now creating one of every 50 new jobs in the United States, one of out of every 80 since 2009.

Chased by Drought, Rising Costs, and Clean Technology, India Pivots on Coal-Fired Power - By Keith Schneider, Circle of Blue, April 11, 2017 - The depression in the coal sector is causing momentous economic pain. Most big American coal companies are in bankruptcy and tens of thousands of miners lost jobs. Billions of dollars in coal reserves are being stranded around the world.

Cities Will Continue To Lead Us Towards 100% Clean, Renewable Energy - By Jodie Van Horn, Breaking Energy, April 6, 2017 - From small towns like Hanover, New Hampshire to bustling metropolises like Los Angeles, people across the country want to raise their kids in communities free from toxic pollution, to create new jobs and economic opportunity, and to pay less for basic services like electricity.

A Conversation With NNU Co-President Jean Ross About The Keystone Pipeline - By Pattie Lockard, National Nurses United, April 10, 2017 - The corrosive tar sands oil that is extracted, transported, and refined for the Keystone project is a major contributor to climate change. An assessment from the pre-Trump Administration Environmental Protection Agency found that well-to-well emissions from tar sands are 82 percent higher than for conventional oil. Then why is the pipeline going full steam ahead?

Dead Zone: Where the Wild Things Were - By Martin Empson, ResoluteReader, April 10, 2017 - That’s the system that needs to be broken and progressive movements will have to incorporate a new vision for agriculture into its struggles in order to do this. In part mean arguing for the type of changes that Lymbery has so eloquently explained in the face of the enormous environmental tragedy that he highlights. But it will also mean a radical struggle by those producers and workers in the fields and the factories to wrest power from the corporations.

Deregulation Sacrifices Workers, Public Health for Corporate Profits: Report - By Nika Knight, Common Dreams, April 11, 2017 - For example, EPI looked at the Trump administration's decision to delay enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's 2016 rule limiting workers' exposure to dangerous silica dust; [related]: Regulations Often Help Working People, While Deregulation Serves Corporate Interests - By staff, Economic Policy Institute, April 11, 2017 - The fact sheet outlines various regulations that Congress is attempting to repeal or has repealed using a rarely used procedure called the Congressional Review Act—such as the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order and the OSHA recordkeeping rule—which directly benefit working people and which hold private interests responsible for workplace rights and safety violations.

EPA staff ‘openly mocking’ Trump’s ‘arrogant and callous’ policies, says retiree - By Joe Romm, Think Progress, April 10, 2017 - In the five-page letter, Cox slams the president for the “false and misleading” claim that killing EPA carbon pollution standards will bring back coal jobs.

5 Ways China Is Becoming the Global Leader on Climate Change - By Bridgette Burkholder, EcoWatch, April 5, 2017 - Renewable energy already employs 3.5 millionpeople in China, compared with less than a million in the U.S. China expects new investments will create 13 million more jobs in the sector by 2020, according to China's National Energy Administration.

4 Ways Renewable Energy Is the Fastest Path to a Booming Economy - By Ryan Schleeter, EcoWatch, April 10, 2017 - Still think the Keystone XL pipeline will create tens of thousands of permanent jobs? Think again.

Landworkers’ Alliance post-Brexit Policy launch – A Place at The Table - By Ed Hamer and Jyoti Fernandes, La Via Campesina, April 12, 2017 - The launch will feature the release of a comprehensive 18-page report outlining the LWA’s key policy proposals for re-orientating agricultural support to deliver high quality food to UK consumers while building an environmentally, socially and economically resilient farming industry.

“Naavenmaadbeku?” ("What should we do?") - By Akhilesh Jairam, La Via Campesina, April 6, 2017 - This step is a new beginning, in a young direction. It is the enthusiasm, concern and energy of youth that will shape the farmers movement in the days to come.

NAFTA Needs To Be Replaced, Not Renegotiated - By John E. Peck and Jim Goodman, Family Farm Defenders, April 8, 2017 - Trade deals like NAFTA thrive on such commodity speculation that boosts corporate profits, while bankrupting family farmers, price gouging consumers, and destroying the environment.

Native American uranium miners and the Trump budget - By Robert Alvarez, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, April 5, 2017 - (T)hey were sent into harm’s way without sufficient warning, becoming the workers most severely exposed to ionizing radiation in the US nuclear weapons complex.

New polling: Renewables popular with Coalition voters, exposing gulf with Guy opposition - By Pat Simons, Yes 2 Renewables, April 10 2017 - “It’s no surprise Coalition voters are so enthusiastic about the Victorian Renewable Energy Target. The scheme will create 11,000 jobs and attract billions worth of investment to regional Victoria” said Pat Simons, Friends of the Earth’s renewable energy spokesperson.

New York's duty to divest from fossil fuel companies: State and city pensions should stop pouring money into oil and coal - By Bill Lipton, New York Daily News, March 27, 2017 - New Yorkers have the power, along with other large states, to lead away from this frightening future and towards an alternative vision of clean renewable energy, good jobs, and environmental justice.

Number Of UK Low Carbon & Renewable Energy Jobs Nears Quarter-Million - By Joshua S Hill, Clean Technica, April 7, 2017 - New figures from the UK government reveal that an estimated 234,000 full-time equivalent employees were working directly for low-carbon and renewable energy activities in 2015.

Kicking Them While They’re Down: What Trump is Doing to Appalachia

By Kenneth Surin - CounterPunch, April 11, 2017; Photo by Don O’Brien | CC BY 2.0

Appalachia voted overwhelmingly for Trump, who won it by a resounding 63%-33%.  Appalachia as a region is defined by federal law, and consists of 490 counties in 13 states.  Hillary Clinton won only 21 of these counties.  According to the right-wing Washington Examiner, “She did not win a single county in Appalachia that is mostly white, non-college-educated and has a population of under 100,000 people”.

Political analysts have used a fine-tooth comb to go over the issue of Trump’s popularity with less-educated whites, so there is no need to repeat their findings here.

More interesting, and not so much discussed thus far, is the potential impact on Appalachia of the budgetary policies announced recently by the Trump administration.  In a nutshell:  what’s been announced may “make America great again”, but it almost certainly won’t do this for Appalachia (not that the rest of the country, except for the plutocracy, is likely to benefit either).

Appalachia is one of the poorest regions in the US.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has been earmarked for elimination by Trump, as has the Economic Development Administration (EDA)– more about this later.  The ARC compiles statistics on Appalachian poverty, income, and employment.

According to the ARC 2010-2014 Poverty Rate report, the poverty rate across the US was 15.6% compared to 19.7% in the Appalachian region of Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

There are significant variations between different Appalachian states where poverty rates are concerned.  For example, the Virginian statewide rate is 11.5% as opposed to an 18.8% rate for the Appalachian region overall.

(This statistic is however somewhat misleading when used in this way because Virginia’s overall poverty rate is greatly reduced by the economic contribution of affluent northern Virginia (NoVa) with its abundance of well-paid government and tech jobs.  There are “two Virginias” where income disparities are concerned, and the poverty rate in Appalachian Virginia, as opposed to NoVa, is a more accurate 18.8%.)

The state with the worst regional poverty rate is Kentucky with a 25.4% rate in its Appalachian portion as opposed to the 18.9% rate for the rest of the state.

The cause of this poverty is not so much unemployment (though that is a contributing factor), but desperately low income levels.

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