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Rising Tide North America

On Direct Action With Trump Around

By Arnold Schroder - Rising Tide Portland, December 1, 2016

The day before police evicted the Frontline Encampment directly in the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline, Jesse Jackson appeared at the blockade on horseback. Celebrity appearances at the DAPL resistance always gave the sleepless days and nights of Native American ceremony, construction equipment lockdowns, and riot police deployments a surreal tinge. But as police violence escalated and the conflict land defenders had anticipated for months loomed, the appearance of the civil rights icon and 1980s presidential candidate riding toward the burning barricades on North Dakota State Highway 1806 pushed the confrontation into the territory of a dream.

Now Governor Jack Dalrymple has ordered the eviction of the main encampment where thousands are resisting the pipeline—which is being constructed behind a fortress of razor wire fencing, floodlights, and armored vehicles—and is refusing to plow roads into the camp, refusing emergency services, and preventing delivery of supplies to water protectors. Police violence has already cost one woman her arm and potentially another vision in an eye and sent an elder into cardiac arrest, but now the state is simply trying to kill people.

This waking nightmare trajectory—events which simultaneously suspend one’s sense of reality and fill one with overwhelming dread—is of course paralleled in the ascendancy of a delusional fascist reality television star to the office of President and his subsequent appointment of a cadre of comic book villains to cabinet positions. In these moments of almost unbelievable human crisis and global change, in addition to political theory and movement history, one might look for guidance on how to respond in fictional narratives. As a friend recently said, “We are living in dystopian science fiction, and we better start acting like it.”

The following are a few thoughts on how to live up to that mandate. They begin with those narrowest in scope, pertaining directly to addressing the climate crisis and systemic ecological collapse, then move to inherent connections between movements attempting to do this and others addressing incarceration and repression, and finally into thoughts on general strategies against Trump’s assault on human dignity. What they have in common—the motivation for citing science fiction as a useful road map forward—is that they assume a situation that is so terrible it does not seem real engenders possibilities for liberatory action which otherwise would not be possible.

Breaking the Climate Mold: Fighting for the Planet and Justice

By Ahmad Gaya - CounterPunch, November 30, 2015

Image: Shutterstock

In the past two years, the way the climate movement talks about itself has changed dramatically. Seemingly overnight, there are no more ‘climate activists’, and everyone is a ‘Climate Justice’ campaigner. Mainstream environmental groups issued statements of solidarity with Ferguson and Baltimore and the blogosphere is filled with articles patiently explaining how global warming connects to struggles for racial, economic and migrant justice.

As a South Asian organizer who has called the environmental movement home for a decade, I’m happy to see this shift. Fifteen years ago the idea of Climate Justice was posed as a challenge to the corporate solutions pushed by ‘big green’ groups in international negotiations. The fact that those same groups are adopting our language and analysis shows real progress.

But rhetoric and analysis is not enough. While the speakers and rally photo-ops have changed, I still find myself and other people of color in the movement speaking to nearly all-white crowds. Big green groups that have “Climate Justice” campaigns can be found pushing cap and trade and other corporate policies that the Climate Justice movement was birthed to oppose. I still find myself in meetings where people go around in circles asking “how do we make this movement/event/group more diverse” or “where are all the brown people?”

The answer to that question is simple if you look around. People of color in the United States are engaged in some of the boldest, most aggressive movements for survival and liberation in recent memory. Black people are rising up against systemic oppression and a violent police state in Ferguson, Baltimore and elsewhere; Indigenous peoples are blocking trains and freeways under the banner of Idle No More; low-income people of color are leading the fight for a just economy; and undocumented people are putting themselves at extreme risk blocking deportation buses, occupying offices and even publicly crossing the border.

More than ever we need a thriving climate justice movement. But it can’t be committed to justice in name only. Enough statements of solidarity have been written. It’s time for us to get into the streets, take action and make real sacrifices for these struggles.

Last May, Rising Tide North America issued a challenge to the movement. We called for people to ‘Flood the System’ with blockades, occupations and mass civil disobedience. We challenged groups to move beyond the narrow frame of organizing against fossil fuel infrastructure, and engage in direct action at police stations, prisons, I.C.E. offices, detention centers and banks. We asked climate activists to find the intersections of our struggles–focusing on the logic of white supremacy, colonialism, patriarchy and extractive economies that creates all our crises–instead of merely inviting our allies into the climate fight.

It’s our belief that one of the best ways to show our commitment to the intersection of struggles is by putting our bodies into the gears that drive oppression.

Post Carbon Radio Episode 93: Flood Wall Street West and Greywater Systems

By Karen Nyhus - KWMR, September 30, 2015

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.

Karen interviews activists (including two members of the Bay Area IWW) at Flood Wall Street West ... in the San Francisco Financial District, who were taking direct action against institutions profiting from dirty energy. We then speak with Laura Allen, Executive Director of Greywater Action and author of The Water-Wise Home: How to Conserve, Capture and Reuse Water in Your Home and Lands, about greywater systems and best practices.

Breaking: Land Defenders Protest Mining Co. After River Poisoning

By Jesse Fruhwith - Peaceful Uprising, August 10, 2015

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.

PR SPRINGS, UT –Several dozen climate justice land defenders will enforce a shut down at the US Oil Sands tar sands mine today in the Book Cliffs of Utah. The action comes just days after a century-old mine poured millions of gallons of toxic sludge into waterways that sustain 40 million Americans.

Calgary-based US Oil Sands is amidst an $80-million construction phase to assemble processing equipment, clear cut more land for more strip mine pits and ultimately to turn tar         sands rocks into liquid fuels. The company operates on land traditionally inhabited by Ute people and is now managed and leased to private corporations by the state of Utah.

The Animas River in nearby Colorado Wednesday was doused in toxic heavy metals from a long-abandoned gold mine–lead, arsenic and other poisons turned the river bright mustard yellow for several days. Many people risk drinking water contamination and water shortages. Thousands of mines across the region are in similarly dangerous condition.

Peaceful Uprising and other critics say tar sands and oil shale mining as well as oil and gas fracking open a new era of looming mining-related environmental disasters in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

“Thousands of mines like open wounds tell the story of a century of exploitation, destruction and violence–against the people of this land and the land and water themselves,” said Melanie Martin of Peaceful Uprising, on behalf of the crowd. “US Oil Sands continues that sick tradition by squandering precious water in a thirsty region and saddling future generations with a toxic legacy of climate catastrophe that there is no way to clean up.”

US EPA has attempted to intervene in construction of the tar sands mine in “Indian country,” but the company has stubbornly rebuffed the federal regulators. The state of Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining recently approved an expansion of the the US Oil Sands strip mine operation, but also demanded the company begin monitoring its toxic water emissions into the Colorado River watershed. That came after a University of Utah study found US Oil Sands mining plans are unsafe to the aquifers and water systems of the East Tavaputs Plateau.

The action comes on the heels of a week-long action training camp for about 80 people that the US Bureau of Land Management sought to stop.

People-enforced shut downs of operations have plagued the company for years and campaigners from Utah Tar Sands Resistance and Canyon Country Rising Tide, and others, vow some day to shut down the tar sands mine completely and forever.

Capitalism vs. Ecology: We Need to Change Everything! Resistance and Alternatives

By the Centre for Social Justice and Socialist Project - Socialist Project, June 21, 2015

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.

It is no longer plausible to propose incremental solutions to the ecological crises of our time. The numbers are clear: to avoid a trillion metric tons of cumulative carbon emissions by 2039, and an increase in global average temperatures of 2°C, it is necessary to stabilize immediately Greenhouse Gas emissions. The ecological scars of desertification, coastline loss, species extinction, destruction of habitat, and much else is evident for all to see.

The main culprit of runaway climate change and environmental degradation, as Naomi Klein points out in her new book, is the economic system itself: capitalism. This is a class system that requires endless growth and is incompatible with sustainability and meaningful climate action. Market solutions from the last decades of neoliberalism have miserably failed. The tactics of even "Big Green" environmental groups have too often pursued immediate reforms that fail to address the real sources of the crisis in the unequal relations at work, the need for endless consumption, and the hollowness of democracy today.

But what might serve as an alternative political program for an ecological transition? Where might new radical political movements emerge to carry forward such an ecological revolution? Is "Blockadia" enough? Or is there even more needed to, as Klein suggests, "build the world that will keep us all safe"?

Moderated by Lana Goldberg. Presentations by:

  • Niloofar Golkar is a Toronto-based activist with Rising Tide Toronto and a graduate student in the Department of Political Science at York University.
  • Greg Albo is a professor of Political Economy at York University, co-editor of the Socialist Register (recent volume: Transforming Classes), and director of the Centre for Social Justice.
  • Jodi Dean is a professor in the Political Science department at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York State. She has been active in the We Are Seneca Lake anti-gas struggle and is the author of Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies (2009), Blog Theory (2010), and The Communist Horizon (2012), among others.

The forum was sponsored by: Centre for Social Justice and Socialist Project.

Dr. StrangeWeather, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb-Train

By Stephyn Quirke - Earth First! Newswire, June 24, 2015

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 our weather getting funny?

Some bushes and flowers started to bloom near the end of January this year, and in the spring cherry blossoms were blooming weeks early. This capped a winter with extremely low snowfall in the Cascade Mountains. The abnormal heat, combined with the drought now covering 80% of Oregon, has actually raised temperatures in the Willamette River above 70 degrees, recently killing chinook salmon as they made their way up-stream to spawn.

In March, tribal leaders from the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians converged in Portland to discuss this ongoing phenomenon of strange weather, which they cannily dubbed “climate change”. These changes, they said, were related to a pattern of global warming, and were creating unique hardship on Northwest tribes. In 2013, the ATNI also passed a resolution opposing all new fossil fuel proposals in the Northwest, citing harm to their treaty rights, cultural resources, and land they hold sacred. Now the Affiliated Tribes are discussing plans for adaptation and mitigation, and asking how to undermine the root causes of climate change.

In addition to the sudden onset of strange weather, Portland has also seen the abrupt arrival of strange, mile-long trains loaded with crude oil – a very unusual sight in the Northwest until just two years ago. In the event of a derailment or crash, these trains are known to increase the temperature of surrounding areas by several hundred degrees – a strange weather event by any standard. This phenomenon has become so common that the train engineers who run them actually call them “bomb trains”.

While the danger of unplanned explosions is universally recognized, the risks of strange weather, and the planned explosions that take place in our internal combustion engines, are typically less appreciated. But the connections are becoming more obvious as the figure of the oil train valiantly pulls them together.

The sudden appearance of oil trains in the Northwest is one effect of the unprecedented crusade for oil extraction in North America – one that has produced a massive wave of opposition from residents and elected officials. In Washington state alone, nine cities representing 40% of the state’s population have passed resolutions that oppose oil trains. In Alberta resistance to oil politics recently replaced a 44-year ruling party with socialists. And in Portland, anger against oil trains just smashed a city proposal to bring propane trains into the port.

In recent months rail workers have become increasingly vocal about the industry-wide safety problems that lead to fiery train accidents. They are also critical of the latest safety rules that allegedly protect the public from accidents. Rail Workers United, a coalition of rail workers and their unions, says that the best way to make trains safer is to increase worker control and self-management; they propose a host of reforms that profit-obsessed rail companies are not interested in hearing. For many rail-side communities there is a parallel interest in community control over the railroads: no fossil fuel trains are safe for them as long as trains derail and the climate unravels. Together, the two movements are calling for a better future for our railroads and our environment, and demanding more public influence to safeguard both.

EcoUnionist News #50

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, June 4, 2015

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 following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

An Injury to One is an Injury to All:

Carbon Bubble:

Just Transition:

1267-Watch:

Other News:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC

RTNA Says: "FLOOD THE SYSTEM!"

By RTNA - Rising Tide Portland, May 23, 2015

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.

Starting this September, Rising Tide North America is calling for mass actions to shut down the economic and political systems threatening our survival.

Already, hundreds of thousands are streaming into the streets to fight back against climate chaos, capitalism and white supremacy.

This wave of resistance couldn’t be more urgent. To stop climate chaos we need a phenomenal escalation in organizing, participation and tactical courage. We need a profound social transformation to uproot the institutions of capitalism, colonialism, patriarchy, and white supremacy, the systems that created the climate crisis. And we need to link arms with allies fighting for migrant justice, dignified work and pay, and an end to the criminalization and brutal policing of black and brown bodies.

We need to #FloodTheSystem.

In the lead up to the United Nations climate talks in Paris, in December, we will escalate local and regional resistance against systems that threaten our collective survival. Together, we will open alternative paths to the failing negotiations of political elites.

This is not another protest. It is a call for a massive economic and political intervention. It is a call to build the relationships needed to sustain our struggles for the long haul. To build popular power along the intersections of race, class, gender and ability. To collectively unleash our power and change everything.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are mobilizing locally.  If you want to get involved, let us know.  And if you already know you are willing to take direct action to address the climate crisis and stop the fossil fuel projects in our region, sign the Rising Tide Regional Pledge of Resistance.

See you at the barricades.

BNSF CEO Keynote Interrupted Over Oil Trains in Chicago at North American Rail Shippers Conference

By Angie Viands - Rising Tide Chicago, May 27, 2015

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.

Chicago, ILMembers of Rising Tide Chicago disrupted the North American Rail Shippers Association, held Wednesday at the Drake Hotel in Chicago, by interrupting a speech by the Burlington-Northern Santa-Fe (BNSF) CEO and dropping a banner in the hotel. These actions drew attention to BNSF’s role in the continued transport of high volumes of dangerous crude through the Chicagoland area.

Burlington-Northern Santa-Fe President Carl Ice was interrupted by two protesters who stood up and chanted, “oil trains kill, shame on you Carl Ice,” while they held a banner that read “BNSF: Bomb Trains Kill.” Just minutes earlier a banner was dropped behind the registration table of the event that had the BNSF logo and read “BNSF: Profits over Safety,” referring to the company’s role in shipping oil and their actions to undermine their rail workers’ safety.

Chicago is a major hub of the nation’s rail traffic, including a recent spike in the transport of crude oil from the Bakken shale fields in North Dakota. Obtained by the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, Bakken oil has proven to be highly volatile. Local concerns were raised when a unit train carrying 103 cars of Bakken crude derailed near Galina, Illinois while in route to Chicago. Had the resulting explosion occurred in a more populated area like Chicago, there would be mass fatalities.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe, owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, is responsible for the transport of the majority of Bakken crude coming into Chicago. Despite the public claims of working towards safer transportation of their cargo, BNSF continues to lobby behind closed doors, opposing reforms designed to protect workers and the communities along the tracks. BNSF has opposed new regulations requiring more stringent speed limits and improved braking technology, as well as launching attacks against requiring multi-person crews.

Participant in the disruption, Kevin Oliver, addressed the cradle-to-grave impacts of developing the Bakken. “From the violence and environmental devastation caused by the extreme extraction of Bakken shale, along the rail lines that cut through our communities on the way to the coasts for export, and to the burning of fossil fuels that contribute to climate chaos, we need to rethink our reliance on the forms of energy that harm our people and planet. BNSF makes billions of dollars putting our communities and climate at risk, so we took this action to take a stand against the obscene wealth that is being generated at the expense of our safety.

Rising Tide Chicago promotes local solutions that empower communities to democratically confront the climate crisis. We believe that our rails should move people, and not dirty and dangerous fossil fuels.

Union Member Risks Arrest at Arc Logistics, Opposes TPP and Fossil Fuel Exports

By Wes Kempfer - Portland Rising Tide, May 7, 2015

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.

Tim Norgren of Stevenson, WA, and Laborers International Union of North America member is locked to a barrel at Arc Logistics Partners’ Portland Terminal to draw a clear connection between fossil fuel exports and trade agreements like the TPP, and to call for action to put a stop to both.

Tim is supported by the climate justice group Portland Rising Tide. The crowd is gathered at Arc Logistics to support Tim and draw the connections between existing & proposed fossil fuel infrastructure and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secretive trade deal being pushed by many politicians including Democrats Senator Wyden, Representative Blumenauer, Representative Bonamici, and President Obama.

Many environmental and labor groups oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on the grounds that it is written and promoted by the fossil fuel industry and American Legislative Exchange Council, gives multinational corporations more rights than communities here in the US, sends jobs overseas, and jeopardizes worker and environmental protections around the Pacific Rim.

The AFL-CIO opposes the TPP and is holding a rally today at 4:30pm at the Sentinel Hotel to tell President Obama, who is in Portland to speak on trade agreements, to stand up for workers and the environment. “I’m locked down today in part because climate change is an issue of survival inextricably linked to so-called ‘free trade’ globalization efforts like the TPP.

While many of us strongly appreciate President Obama’s willingness to bring the climate crisis into the national debate, he has been unwilling to connect major fossil fuel exports to the TPP or veto the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Tim Norgren.

With proposals by major Alberta Tar Sands investor Pembina Pipeline Corporation for a propane (derived from fracked gas in Alberta, Canada) export terminal in Portland, the Jordan Cove Natural Gas terminal proposed in Coos Bay, a proposed natural gas terminal in Warrenton, as well as already-operating Arc Logistics and Port Westward oil-by-rail terminals, Oregonians are concerned that the Trans Pacific Partnership will promote more export terminals, send domestic energy overseas to fuel jobs in countries with lower workers’ rights standards, and hasten climate change.

At a time when scientists tell us we need to leave most fossil fuels *in the ground* to prevent disastrous climate change and runaway global warming, this is completely unacceptable. Tim hopes this action will send a message to union leaders and politicians alike that everyday workers want sustainable jobs.

“I’m also taking this action to let my union, the Laborers International Union of North America, know that it has rank and file members who are willing to stand up not only for prevailing wage contracts, but for the survival and rights of all workers, rather than support those who would see minimum wage remain at poverty levels while jobs are freely outsourced to foreign factories with subsistence wages and no safety or emissions standards whatsoever. All they offer us in return is a chance to build infrastructure for an economy based on environmentally destructive resource extraction, and that’s just not sustainable.”

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