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Obama’s State of the Union: Fantasy, Fact, Fiction or All of the Above?

By Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

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.

During Obama’s State of the Union address last night the presence of the star of the reality TV show Duck Dynasty might have been the most real part of a very surreal evening.

Of particular note were Obama’s comments on energy and climate change.

While the US Southeast was being hammered by a highly unusual winter storm which stranded thousands in the metro Atlanta area, (no, this does not disprove climate change you nitwits, climate scientists have warned for years that a warming globe means extreme and unpredictable weather) Obama was proclaiming a desire to address climate change so that “when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, [we can say] yes we did.”

This sounds wonderful until we consider the “all of the above” energy strategy Obama touted earlier in the speech, which gives a nod to some of the dirtiest, most polluting and destructive energy sources.  It includes shale oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota–the gas flares of which can be seen from space.  This shale oil is so extremely volatile that in the past year two trains carrying bakken oil have exploded.  It means more coal; it means more deep water offshore drilling of the type that caused the BP oil spill disaster.  It means more nukes, even in the shadow of the ongoing catastrophe at Fukushima.  And it means more fracking.  Obama made a big show of his support for natural gas “if extracted safely,” which it is not.

Coal Miners and the Green Agenda

By Robert Pollin - New Labor Forum, Winter 2014

From 2014...

In June 2012, President Obama announced his “Climate Action Plan.” This is his administration’s major second-term initiative to re-energize its agenda around fighting climate change and supporting major new investments in clean energy.

The primary focus of the Action Plan is the administration’s program to dramatically reduce carbon emissions from the country’s electricity utility plants. These emissions result primarily from burning coal, but also natural gas, to produce electricity. Carbon emissions from electricity generation represent about one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions produced by all sources within the U.S. economy today. It is evident that these emissions need to be cut dramatically if we are going to stop playing Russian roulette with the environment.

New Regulations and Technologies Are Not Enough

The administration’s strategy for achieving these emissions cuts is to begin strictly enforc-ing the existing air pollution regulations estab-lished as part of the 1990 Clean Air Act.

The administration is taking this approach because it allows them to avoid asking Congress to either spend more money or pass new regulations.The administration expects that the utility companies can achieve the needed emissions reductions through a technological fix: the introduction of carbon capture and sequestra-tion (CCS) processes, through which, they believe, coal and natural gas could burn cleanly. This is how the phrase “clean coal” has begun to emerge on billboards and TV commercials. CCS encompasses several specific technolo-gies that aim to capture carbon emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities. The captured carbon is then transported, usually through pipelines, to locations where it is then stored permanently—that is, for all time—in subsurface geological formations.

Opponents of the administration’s Action Plan claim that CCS remains unproven and, even if it becomes technically feasible, would impose heavy new costs on utilities.

In this instance, the administration’s critics have the weight of evidence on their side. As such, the Action Plan faces two fundamental problems. First, as there is no proven technol-ogy for delivering clean coal—or, for that mat- ter, clean oil or natural gas—the only viable path for dramatically reducing carbon emis-sions is to sharply reduce fossil fuel consump-tion. This, in turn, means that workers and communities dependent on the fossil fuel indus-tries will face job losses and retrenchment. It is therefore no surprise that even Democratic pol-iticians representing the affected communities are actively opposing Obama’s initiative.

Read the report (PDF).

Capital Blight - Grist's Ben Adler Throws the Working Class Under the Bus.

By x344543 - January 12, 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.

Recently grist.org climate writer Ben Adler wrote an article, Hey, protester, leave those Google buses alone, excoriating anti-gentrification protesters for organizing a blockade of a private charter bus, contracted by Google, in protest of that company's contribution to the ongoing gentrification of the precious few remaining working class neighborhoods in San Francisco.

In the article, Adler made the rather glib argument that the protesters were ignoring the needs of the Earth, "because", he argued,

Driving in one’s own private car is far more elitist than sharing a bus with one’s coworkers. It is also vastly worse for the environment. The buses take cars off the road. Fewer cars mean less traffic, and less idling in traffic, which is especially polluting.

I'm sorry, but this has to be one of the most asinine articles Grist ever published, and it's wrong on so many levels.

First of all, to accuse those residents who are protesting very real economic threats to their ability to keep living in San Francisco with "class antagonism" is the height of accusing the victims with commuting the crimes. Capitalist economics, by nature, are institutionalized class antagonism of the working class by the employing class, and this is no different. If this were the mid 1850s, the author may very well have been accusing the abolitionists with stirring up "race hatred".

Secondly, it's highly ironic that Grist would be now defending Google, when they, themselves have rightfully called them out for organizing a fundraiser for climate change denying Senator Jim Inhofe (R, Oklahoma).

Thirdly, Adler makes a nonsensical argument that gentrification is "good for the environment", an argument which is contradicted by Adler's own previously published article, Pushing Poor People to the Suburbs is Bad for the Environment.

Indeed it is. Gentrification is a form of capitalist oppression which not only does not deliver on its own promises, it harms workers, people of color, and the environment. In fact, Gentrification is another form of colonialism.

No Thanks Resistance Festival this Weekend (November 28 - 30) at the Albany Bulb!

By x363464 - November 25, 2013

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.

Come join us for The No Thanks Resistance Festival and three day Camp-out to defend the Albany Bulb from Eviction! See the Flyer for the schedule of events! Schedule updated to the event page tonight!

FB Event Page - http://www.facebook.com/events/405870986212443/

FB Event Page for the No Thanks Anti-Colonial Potluck - http://www.facebook.com/events/547036912048234/

FB Event Page for the Artwalk of Friday and Saturday! - http://www.facebook.com/events/587362084664394/

To help organize, distribute flyers, and or propose a workshop send an email to nothanksresistancefestival [at] gmail.com

Workshop proposals should include if you want to do it on Friday or Saturday, What time between 10 AM and 3 PM, things you need from organizers, and the title of your workshop!

Existing workshops include: Know your rights training - Labor, the Working Class, and Housing - Towards An Ecological General Strike - Tarsands Blockade - Direct Action Training - The IWW EUC, The BLF Green Bans, and Working Class Strategies to Halt Gentrification and Ecological Destruction - ect.

Warsaw Climate Talks Go Up in Smoke

By Chris Williams - reprinted by permission from Truthout, November 21, 2013

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 smell of inaction" is how Dipti Bhatnagar, Friends of the Earth Mozambique's international program director for climate justice and energy, summed up the atmosphere inside the giant Narodowy Stadium after the first week of the latest round of international climate negotiations, Conference of the Parties, otherwise known as COP 19, taking place Nov 11-22, 2013, in Warsaw.

Given that this is the 19th consecutive year of annual negotiations and with a meaningful global treaty more distant now than it was almost two decades ago, Bhatnagar's olfactory deduction seems likely to be highly accurate.

As the pervasive smell of inaction seeped like a suffocating gas throughout the inside of the conference, outside, the choking effects of coal smoke waft from all corners of a country that obtains 90 percent of its electricity from coal and whose government has pledged to keep it that way until 2060.

As if to emphasize the point, just on the other side of the banks of the Vistula River, a stone's throw from the international climate negotiations, another conference is being held at the Polish Ministry of the Economy. Intent on sending a none-too-subtle message to government negotiators at COP 19, coal industry executives have gathered at the International Coal and Climate Conference, November 18-19, to discuss the future of coal in light of climate change.

If this were a rational system set up to benefit humanity, one might think that, as coal burning releases more carbon than other fossil fuels in addition to small particulates that infiltrate and cause chronic lung damage as well as other toxic chemicals that increase the risk of cancer and cause acid rain - coal industry leaders might be discussing how to shift their investments, to phase out coal and transition to alternative energy production methods that don't rely on burning such a noxious substance.

In reality, the conference was put on for precisely the opposite reasons. Attendees, with the blessing of the Polish government, were there to argue for the future of "clean coal." This technology is known as CCS (carbon capture and storage). And although it seeks to trap and bury carbon emissions from coal plants, it doesn't exist in any meaningful commercial form. Even some supporters harbor increasing doubts that it ever will be made to work on the scale necessary. But, nevertheless, it is being touted as the way to "safely" continue burning coal.

Bay Area Community Fights for its Life, and its Vision

By Root Barrett - Waging Nonviolence, November 7, 2013

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.

On a tree-shaped peninsula that juts into the San Francisco Bay, on top of layers of concrete rubble, rebar and a dense carpet of vegetation, stand a collection of small homes. Along the southern coast is a one-room castle, built from the rubble. Along its northern coast are fanciful sculptures: a dragon, Don Quixote and a towering woman emerging from the water with outstretched arms. In between stand an amphitheater, a toy garden and countless paintings. The 64 residents of the peninsula, known as “the Albany Bulb,” have created, cleaned and maintained much of this artwork and their tiny houses.

The Bulb has been a refuge for its residents, most of whom were homeless before settling on the peninsula and many of whom are elderly or disabled. But now, their refuge is under serious threat. The City Council of Albany, a city just north of Berkeley, Calif., voted this year to evict the Bulb community. Their plan is to turn the Bulb into a recreation-only park area. (The Bulb already functions as a park for many East Bay residents, who can be seen walking along its beaches at almost any time of day, although is also a multi-use commons and residential community.)

In response, residents of the Albany Bulb and allies from the East Bay Area have united to form the group Share the Bulb, which is orchestrating an escalating campaign to save one of the most unique communities in the United States. Their goal is to prevent Bulb residents from being evicted, or, at the very least, to forestall the eviction until the city agrees to work with Bulb residents to secure affordable alternative housing. It’s not an easy charge: Current residents’ only claim to the land is the sweat equity they’ve put into it over the past two decades. And while housing may be a human right, at least according to the United Nations, it is a right the United States reserves for those with the money to buy it.

The Obama Dirty Energy Doctrine - Part 1: A Petroleum-Based National Security Policy

By Burkely Herrman - Interesting Blogger, November 3, 2013

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.

Already, I am mad as hell, and can’t take it anymore. Then, the President of my home country goes before the UN, and tells them that we are an imperialist country. In this speech, part of what outlined the new Obama Doctrine, noted the following American policy for the rest of his 3 years in office:

“…let me take this opportunity to outline what has been U.S. policy toward the Middle East and North Africa and what will be my policy during the remainder of my presiden[cy]…The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region…We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world. Although America is steadily reducing our own dependence on imported oil, the world still depends on the region’s energy supply and a severe disruption could destabilize the entire global economy. We will dismantle terrorist networks that threaten our people….when it’s necessary, defend the United States against terrorist attack, we will take direct action. And finally, we will not tolerate the development or use of weapons of mass destruction…we’ll continue to promote democracy and human rights and open markets because we believe these practices achieve peace and prosperity…these objectives are best achieved when we partner with the international community and with the countries and peoples of the region…Now, the notion of American empire may be useful propaganda, but it isn’t borne out by America’s current policy or by public opinion.”(1)

South Africa’s Untold Tragedy of Neoliberal Apartheid

By Jérôme Roos - Notes toward an International Libertarian Eco-Socialism, November 12, 2013

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.

Author's Introduction: In light of the recent death of Nelson Mandela, the “father” of post-Apartheid South Africa, I am reposting this excellent reflection by Jérôme E. Roos on a recent trip to the country.  The essay was originally published in Reflections on a Revolution (ROAR) on 12 November 2013.

Twenty years after apartheid, the old freedom fighters of the ANC have come to reproduce the same structures of oppression against which they once arose.

We were driving down the N3 highway on our way back home from the Eastern port city of Durban, passing by the endless lines of improvised shacks that constitute the Katlehong township just outside Johannesburg, when we saw the flashing blue lights of a police car in the distance. As we approached, a horrific scene revealed itself. A local slumdweller, probably somewhere in his thirties, lay dead on the side of the road, his body awkwardly twisted into an impossible position, his eyes still wide open. Some two hundred meters ahead, a car had pulled over on the curb, its driver casually leaning on the vehicle while talking to a policeman. No one had even bothered to cover up the body. This man just lay there like a dead animal — another road kill in endless wave of needlessly extinguished lives.

Every year, more than 14.000 people are killed on the road in South Africa, an average of 38 per day — nearly half of whom are pedestrians. Of the other half, many die as overloaded buses, micro-vans or so-called bakkies crash during the daily commute from the townships to the city to work as waiters, clerks or house maids. Just today, a bus full of commuters slammed into a truck on a narrow and potholed road to Pretoria, killing 29. But in the aggregate, tragedies like these are only numbers in a cold statistical series. The front pages of the country’s newspapers remain splattered with horror stories and graphic photos of brutal killings, as fifty people are murdered daily. Another 770 people die from AIDS every day. A total of 5.7 million, or 18% of South Africans, is HIV/AID infected, the highest infection rate in the world. Needless to say, one of the bloody red lines that runs through the broken social fabric of this heartbreakingly beautiful country is that human life is accorded shockingly little value.

Emergency Mobilization Against Gentrification in Oakland!

By x363464 - November 6, 2013

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.

EMERGENCY ENVIRONMENTAL/ANTI-GENTRIFICATION MOBILIZATION TOMORROW NOVEMBER 7TH AT 3PM! JACK LONDON AQUATIC CENTER!

PLEASE COPY, PASTE, AND SHARE!

3100 NEW "ECO" CONDOS TO GENTRIFY THE 5TH AVE MARINA / CHINATOWN AND DESTROY THE OAKLAND ESTUARY UNLESS THEY ARE STOPPED!

Emergency Mobilization to resist the Oak to Ninth project this Thursday November 7, 2013 3PM, Jack London Aquatic Center, 115 Embarcadero Oakland: public "outreach" meeting to introduce Phase 1 design & schedule.

Governor Jerry Brown is waging a war on on the environment and the working class! We must draw the line in Oakland!

http://oaklandchamber.blogspot.com/2013/10/brooklyn-basin-outreach-and-information.html

The Oak to Ninth Project is the definition of gentrification. "The Oak to Ninth Project would wall off the waterfront, demolish the historic Ninth Avenue Terminal, build housing next to I-880, and create yet more traffic congestion. This deal, which its opponents point out received virtually no coverage in the corporate media, has been called 'shady.' "[1] To add insult to injury they are calling it the "Brooklyn Basin" [2]

The project would build into the estuary which the Sierra Club once again uses their privilege to compromise the environment and state "Rather than approving the developer's request for 3,100 units, the Council should insist on the environmentally superior project of just 540 units."

In 2006 opposition was raised The League of Women Voters, the Sierra Club, the Coalition of Advocates for Lake Merritt (CALM), and the Green Party. They were met with a demand to collect 18,700 signatures in 30 days for the plan for the a referendum [5] They ended up collecting 25,000 but were shut down and in response filed a lawsuit in Superior Court.

“After mounting an enormous and successful effort to alert the public and collect signatures, the Referendum Committee faces an impossible situation,” president of the League of Women Voters of Oakland Helen Hutchison said in a prepared statement announcing the lawsuit. “The city gave us the authorized documents several days into the brief 30-day signature gathering period. Then when we turned in the signatures, they said, ‘we supplied the wrong documents so the referendum petition is invalid.’ Invalidating our petition for this reason completely undermines the right to petition for referendum on a city action"

This project is being pushed forward by Gov. Jerry Brown who recently received an award from the Blue Green Alliance and the Sierra Club for "catalyzing the clean energy economy" This was a complete farce considering Jerry Brown has been attacking unions and the environment for some time now [3] This project may be exactly why he is working to dismantle the California Environmental Quality Act for infill housing development! [4] In the Environmental Impact Report it states:

"The Court Order found that the EIR failed to comply with CEQA by not including a sufficient analysis of the cumulative land use/plans and policies impacts of the proposed project."

Does the Environmental Movement Speak for You?

By Burkely Hermann - Originally published at State of Nature, Spring 2013; reposted by permission of the author.

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.

For years, I thought the big environmental organizations were on my side. Just look at the nice logo for the World Wildlife Fund which has a polar bear as its image and the Defenders of Wildlife with wolves howling in the background. However, as I entered my first year of college I had a rude awakening. In researching for a talk, I found that companies ranging from the worst polluters to health insurance firms had representatives on the boards of these organizations. Over two months later I followed up on this and my anger was even greater as I woke up to the reality. In 2008, when the anger over the Sierra Club partnering with Clorox spread nationwide, NBC News quoted Gwen Ruta, a vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund, as saying that “partnerships between businesses and advocacy groups can be good for the planet and a company’s bottom line.” I asked myself: are these huge environmental organizations corrupted by the business community and the two-party oligarchy?

Let us jump back to the Forward on Climate protest in DC on February 17th. I went to the protest on this very cold day and wrote something everyone should keep in mind. Looking back, I remember how the rally before the march on the White House seemed like an Obama rally, and a bit like a rock concert. While there were college students and people of all persuasions – races, genders and ethnicities – the rhetoric of the speakers deeply worried me. My friend, who was also equally critical of Obama, concurred. While there were some good speakers such as indigenous rights groups and 350.org founder Bill McKibben, there were also a number of Obamacrats, such as Sheldon Whitehouse, the sponsor of the internet censorship bill, SOPA, and Van Jones, who formerly worked as Obama’s “green jobs” czar. Also, there were some strange speakers like an investment banker, an actor on a reality TV show, a commentator who has a CNN show and the Sierra Club President. It seemed to me that this rally was trying to channel all of the people there to have one demand: end the Keystone XL pipeline. I still think that people were thinking for themselves, and the march itself was inspiring to see, but it seems a lot of people took in the pro-Obama rhetoric without questioning it. As a result, I now believe that the permitted and approved march was almost worthless, and was a waste of time because no sort of political change came, especially since these “pseudo-protests” were on a Sunday, when the federal government wasn’t in town, meaning they were not a threat.

You may wonder how this ties into the environmental movement. Major “partner organizations” of this the Forward on Climate protest included the National Audubon Society, the Sierra Club (a main sponsor), Environment America, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), National Wildlife Foundation (NWF), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Wilderness Society. These organizations are part of what will be referred to throughout this article as “Gang Green,” (or Big Green) a moniker which represents the top ten groups in the mainstream environmental movement, all of which have huge staffs and a good number of lobbyists, and bring in millions each year. Journalist Naomi Klein recently wrote in The Nation about these groups, saying how the divestment campaign pushed by young activists has missed an important target: Big Green, which has

led the climate movement down various dead ends [including] carbon trading, carbon offsets, [and] natural gas as a “bridge fuel”… [because] the groups pushing hardest for these false solutions took donations, formed corporate partnerships with [or have stock in] the big emitters… [including] Conservation International… [the] Wildlife Conservation Society… WWF [World Wildlife Fund]… the National Wildlife Federation [and]… the Nature Conservancy.

As Klein says, “the message to Big Green is clear: cut your ties with the fossils, or become one yourself.”

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