Coming out of the Shadows: Human Rights and Animal Welfare in the Industrial Model of Agriculture

By Nancy L. Utesch - Organic Consumers Association, September 3, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The burgeoning problems that the industrial model of farming present warrant the necessity to bring these issues out into the spotlight for discussion.  These problems have been brought to our communities, not problems citizenry has gone looking for.  These issues, super sized, along with the mega farms, have reached a tipping point in communities that can no longer shoulder the burden of this industry, evolving from the mom and pop farms of 20, 50 or 100 cows-and growing in numbers in the thousands-3, 5, 10,000 animals in the last decade.

The social implications for placing huge animal factories amid the rural populous with huge cesspools of untreated waste, also spread in those communities, is devastating.  The touting of progress and innovation, often voiced by this industry and its promoters, seems to be lost in the dark abyss of manure pits now containing as much as 82 million gallons of untreated lagoon slurry at a single site, displacing families from their homes and leaving those remaining with plunging property values, quality of life issues, and contaminated air and water.

While there are many issues to discuss on this model of food production, there are a few that others will warn you not to broach.  The first time I heard the term "third rail politics" was while speaking to one of the agencies designed to protect citizenry and the environment in the state.  It was the first, of what would become many times, that I would be warned to stay away!  The third rail "used to power trains, carries hundreds of volts of electricity, likely resulting in death by electrocution for anyone who comes into direct contact with it".  While a political term, the hazards of the rail are not limited to the political arena. The controversial "shock" of the third rail is warning enough. Don't Touch!   Safe to bet, most stay away from the hazards of the third rail. 

Two of the issues that that ride the rails include immigrant workers and animal welfare.   There are vast land mines that exist while dancing amongst these two topics, including the political forces that reign, and the potential social stigma of taking a stand on these two controversial topics.

Hundreds of women demand a People-Centered Agenda for SADC

By Via Campesina Africa, WoMin and Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) - La Via Campesina, September 2, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

(Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, August 18, 2014) – Women and Mining (WoMin), Via Campesina Africa and Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) contributed to demands made to the SADC Head of States during the just ended SADC People’s Summit held in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe from the 15th to the 16th of August 2014.

The RWA, WoMin and Via Campesina delegates were part of the more than 2,500 delegates drawn from grassroots movements, community and faith-based organizations, women’s organizations, labor, student, youth, economic justice and human rights networks and other social movements.

The Peoples’ Summit was convened under the leadership of the Southern Africa People’s Solidarity Network (SAPSN) and Peoples Dialogue at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair grounds in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe under the theme ‘Reclaiming SADC for People’s Development-SADC Resources for SADC People’. This political position responds to our shared analysis that the SADC development agenda is increasingly determined by corporate interests, which are privileged above the region’s 260 million people.

Via Campesina and RWA met under the agriculture and food sovereignty cluster while WoMin met under the extractives and climate cluster, and developed their own statements, which were included in the communiqué submitted to the Heads of States.

The Mozambique Union of Farmers, member of La Via Campesina, met to speak about Pro-Savanna’s role in land grabbing in Mozambique and asked for regional solidarity.

“Rural women in Africa are the main producers of food, yet their contribution remains invisible. They are the most marginalized in terms of access to land and secure tenure, natural resources, and political rights. Patriarchal relationships continue to prevail, making rural women vulnerable and subject to violence” read part of the RWA declaration.

The communiqué went on to demand that governments fulfil their commitment to allocate 10% of national budgets to agriculture following the Maputo declaration at African Union level.  RWA and Via Campesina also demanded that governments include small-scale farmers in policy and decision making processes.  Other demands included women’s rights to land and security of tenure and protection of organic products, indigenous seeds and knowledge to ensure food and seed sovereignty.

Journalist sues Utah tar sands refinery for illegal "terrorism" police detention

By x373644 - press release, September 3, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

SALT LAKE CITY--An award-winning independent journalist filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Tesoro and the Salt Lake City Police Department for illegally detaining him and accusing him of terrorism for taking photographs of a refinery. 

Jesse Fruhwirth posted a video on the Internet of December 16, 2013, when an ice storm and power outage prompted a major pollution event at Tesoro's tar sands refinery in the Rose Park neighborhood.

"I was in bed reading and through my window suddenly I could see that the night sky was ablaze as if all of Rose Park was on fire," says Fruhwirth. "Only the refinery was on fire, but I knew that such huge flare offs were extra dangerous events for babies, old people and sick people and I thought it was important to film the fire that might severely sicken or kill some of my neighbors that night."

Fruhwirth also filmed the interaction he had with a police officer who ordered him to stop filming. In the video, Salt Lake officer Yvette Zayas tells Fruhwirth that she detained him for taking pictures of "critical infrastructure,” that she would refer her report to a "Joint Terrorism Task Force" to protect "homeland security."

Zayas is simultaneously a paid employee of Tesoro and SLCPD, but that night she was working directly on Tesoro's payroll.

Seattle Activists Mount Tripod: Stop Exploding Oil Trains

By Rising Tide Cascadia - Rising Tide North America, September 2, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

UPDATE 3:32pm PDT: Abby has been extracted after an epic 8 hour blockade. Donate to get all five awesome climate defenders out of jail!

Five residents of Seattle and Everett, WA, working with Rising Tide Seattle, have stopped work at a Burlington Northern Santa-Fe Rail Yard in Everett by erecting a tripod-structure on the outbound railroad tracks, directly in front of a mile-long oil train. Follow Rising Tide Seattle for live updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Seattle resident Abby Brockway – a small business owner, and mother – is suspended from the structure 18 feet above the tracks while four other residents are locked to the legs the tripod. The group is demanding an immediate halt to all shipments of fossil fuels through the Northwest and calling on Governor Inslee to reject permits for all new fossil fuel projects in Washington, including proposed coal and oil terminals.

Donate to support Abby and the other involved in the action!

“People in the Pacific Northwest are forming a thin green line that will keep oil, coal and gas in the ground,” said Brockway, “Just one of these proposed terminals would process enough carbon to push us past the global warming tipping point – we won’t let that happen.”

Today’s protest has shut down work at BNSF’s Delta Rail Yard in Everett. With the increase of fossil fuel transport in recent years the yard has become a crucial staging ground for coal trains headed to Canadian export terminals and oil trains bound for Washington refineries. An oil-train carrying explosive bakken crude oil sat stalled while the protest continued.

“Exploding oil-trains running through my town are just a reminder of how out of control the fossil fuel industry really is,” said Jackie Minchew an Everett resident and retired educator locked to one of the tripod’s poles.

In a controversial move, Burlington Northern Santa-Fe recently announced a tentative deal with Union leaders to reduce train crews from an engineer and conductor to a single engineer. The oil train that de-railed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec was crewed by a single engineer. BNSF claims that oil-trains will continue to have two person crews, but critics point out that nothing in the proposed contract binds the company to that statement. Under the proposed deal Coal Trains would be operated by a single crew-member.

“BNSF is endangering workers, communities and our environment. They should keep the conductors and lose the oil trains,” said Brockway.

The surge in oil-train traffic is already impacting other commodities like passenger rail and agricultural shipments. Farmers from the Midwest to Washington State have faced what they call “unprecedented” delays in moving Wheat and other products to West Coast ports. Amtrak service through fossil-fuel train corridors has also suffered significant disruption and officials have expressed concern that the problem will only get worse as more terminals come online.

How the Fracking Industry Undermines Labor

By Sydney Baldwin, Ryanne Waters and Katherine Cirullo - Food and Water Watch, August 28, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Is there a salary worth risking your health or even your life? Big Oil and Gas might think so, but the ex-industry workers with whom we spoke aren’t so convinced.

Today, Food & Water Watch released Toxic Workplace: Fracking Hazards on the Job, a research brief that exposes the dangers of working in the fracking industry. Subject to long hours on the job, sloppy safety regulations and reporting, lack of injury compensation and close contact with hazardous chemicals, former industry laborers agree that the fracking workplace is a toxic one. As we reflect on the social and economic successes of the labor movement over this holiday weekend, it becomes more evident that the fracking industry may have missed the memo.

The practice of hydraulic fracturing involves drilling down to a targeted rock formation and injecting large volumes of water, sand and toxic chemicals at extreme pressure to create fractures in the rock and release tightly held oil and gas. The chemicals used in the fracking process can cause cancer and damage the nervous system, immune and cardiovascular systems and upset the endocrine system.

At the site, workers can be exposed to volatile organic compounds, including benzene and toluene, as well as fugitive methane, which are often released during fracking and can mix with nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel-fueled vehicles and stationary equipment to form ground-level ozone. Workers can also be exposed to silica sand, which is often used in the fracking process, and is a known human carcinogen. Long term exposure to silica, a component that makes up as much as 99 percent of frac sand, increases the likelihood of developing silicosis, which damages lung tissue and inhibits lungs function. Breathing it can make a person more susceptible to tuberculosis and is also associated with autoimmune disorders and kidney disease.

Tribal Reps Air Concerns Over Proposed Nuclear Plant

Eric Trenbeath - Moab Sun News, August 20, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Tribal representatives from the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT), as well as from the Ute and Goshute tribes, expressed their concerns about a proposed nuclear power plant near Green River at a public meeting that took place at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center (MARC) on Monday, August 18.

Close to 50 local residents turned out to hear what they had to say.

The representatives traveled from as far away as Parker, Ariz., to gather information, tour the site of the proposed nuclear facility, and to express their concerns about river contamination and water over-consumption on the Green River, the largest tributary of the Colorado River.

“I have concerns about this,” CRIT council representative Johnny Hill said. “Our water is very precious. It's more precious than gold. This is our agriculture, our income, our beef, our chicken, our food.”

CRIT is a geo-political organization made up of four separate Indian tribes who live on the Colorado River Indian Reservation that straddles the lower Colorado River in Arizona and California. Agriculture makes up a large portion of their economy, and it is dependent on irrigation water from the Colorado River.

“Taking care of this river is very important to us,” CRIT council representative Amanda Barrera said. “We hold seniority rights to it. We are here to educate ourselves and take information back to our people.”

Forrest Cuch, a Ute Indian from the Uintah Basin, said he came down, “to join my native brothers and sisters to oppose the nuclear power plant.”

Cuch said that he has already seen too much destruction from the oil and gas industry in the Uintah Basin, and that the risk for catastrophe with a nuclear power plant is too high.

“They had the ocean in Fukishima,” he said. “Imagine polluting the Colorado River.”

The Last Gasp of Climate Change Liberals

By Chris Hedges - Truthdig, August 31, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The climate change march in New York on Sept. 21, expected to draw as many as 200,000 people, is one of the last gasps of conventional liberalism’s response to the climate crisis. It will take place two days before the actual gathering of world leaders in New York called by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss the November 2015 U.N. Climate Conference in Paris. The marchers will dutifully follow the route laid down by the New York City police. They will leave Columbus Circle, on West 59th Street and Eighth Avenue, at 11:30 a.m. on a Sunday and conclude on 11th Avenue between West 34th and 38th streets. No one will reach the United Nations, which is located on the other side of Manhattan, on the East River beyond First Avenue—at least legally. There will be no speeches. There is no list of demands. It will be a climate-themed street fair.

The march, because its demands are amorphous, can be joined by anyone. This is intentional. But as activist Anne Petermann has pointed out, this also means some of the groups backing the march are little more than corporate fronts. The Climate Group, for example, which endorses the march, includes among its members and sponsors BP, China Mobile, Dow Chemical Co., Duke Energy, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Greenstone. The Environmental Defense Fund, which says it “work[s] with companies rather than against them” and which is calling on its members to join the march, has funding from the oil and gas industry and supports fracking as a form of alternative energy. These faux environmental organizations are designed to neutralize resistance. And their presence exposes the march’s failure to adopt a meaningful agenda or pose a genuine threat to power.

Our only hope comes from radical groups descending on New York to carry out direct action, including Global Climate Convergence and Popular Resistance. March if you want. But it should be the warm-up. The real fight will come once people disperse on 11th Avenue.

Labor Day 2050: Global Warming And The Coming Collapse Of Labor Productivity

By Joe Romm - Think Progress, September 1, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Global warming is projected to have a serious negative impact on labor productivity this century. Here is a look at what we know.

In 2013, a NOAA study projected that “heat-stress related labor capacity losses will double globally by 2050 with a warming climate.” If we stay near our current greenhouse gas emissions pathway, then we face a potential 50 percent drop in labor capacity in peak months by century’s end.

Many recent studies project a collapse in labor productivity from business-as-usual carbon emissions and warming, with a cost to society that may well exceed that of all other costs of climate change combined. And, as one expert reviewing recent studies put it, “national output in several [non-agricultural] industries seemed to decline with temperature in a nonlinear way, declining more rapidly at very high daily temperatures.”

Dorset Group of the IWW and IWW EUC Launched at Poole Community Green Fair

By x375261 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, September 3, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Dorset Green Community Fair took place over the weekend and provided a welcome alternative to the war junkie attraction of the annual Bournemouth air show, where, a source reported there was a large military presence engaging in a dubious attempt to convince Joe Public that state terrorism is a good thing and it may be worth their while packing their kids off to some remote foreign field just to get them back in bits in the state approved body bag(s).

The usual suspects from the reformist tendency were in attendance pushing yet more discredited ideas to persuade visitors that you can reform capitalism and deal effectively with the ecological crisis. Can't be done.

After the shambles in Brighton http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-25976843 we now know the Green Party are no better than any other political party when it comes to any idea of a radical solution to the ecological nightmare about to befall us all. The bottom line is they are just tories on bikes (Boris Johnson x many by any other name).

Probably the stall that had the most impact was the launch of the newly formed Dorset Group of The Industrial Workers of the World and their Environmental Unionist Caucus (http://ecology.iww.org/).

Chapter 25 : Sabo Tabby vs. Killa Godzilla

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

"Between 1914-18, when the IWW openly advocated ca’canny (better known as “sabotage”), it often used the symbol of an angry black cat, with claws borne, fur standing on end, and a bottlebrush tail, as visual code. Indeed, the “sabo-cat”, (which may have originally been a tabby to provide a visual play-on-words, i.e. “sabo-tabby” for “sabotage”) designed by none other than Solidarity Forever songsmith and IWW organizer Ralph Chaplin [1], is still used today by the IWW, Earth First!, and the admirers of both—sometimes to specifically encourage direct action, but generally as a totem. [2] And though the IWW and Earth First! may have openly advocated sabotage at different times during their existences, as Earth First!er George Draffan had pointed out, in actual fact, it was the timber workers themselves who actually practiced it more than anyone else. [3] While this was often welcomed by the members of Local #1, at the same time, it also potentially caused problems as well.

"As opposition to Corporate Timber grew, North Coast activists anticipated a backlash. Already Earth First!ers in Arizona had been set up and framed for “terrorist” acts they didn’t commit. It was only a matter of time before something locally would get sabotaged, blown up, or burned down and the North Coast activists would likely get the blame. Indeed, there were some hints that it had possibly already happened. Take the case of the mysterious burnings of the Okerstrom feller-buncher logging equipment.

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