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Adrienne Maree Brown on the US Social Forum, Detroit and Octavia Butler
Thousands of activists and organizers have come from around the world for the US Social Forum for four days of workshops, meetings and marches to strengthen social movements and advance a progressive agenda. Democracy Now!’s Mike Burke was at Cobo Hall for the opening ceremony. He spoke with one of the national coordinators of the US Social Forum, Adrienne Maree Brown.
Local Voices Seek National Platform at U.S. Social Forum in Detroit
“Thousands of protesters have taken over the streets of downtown Toronto as isolated groups of demonstrators smashed windows and confronted riot police. A crowd of black-clad protesters with bandanas covering their faces moved around the city centre, damaging property along the way. Several police cruisers were vandalized and two were lit ablaze as flames and black smoke billowed into the air. Sparks flew into the air from small explosions. Firefighters finally arrived after about 15 minutes. Tear gas was deployed at College Street and University Avenue shortly after 4:30 p.m. ET, but a police spokesman said he did not know whether it was used by police or protesters.”
“June 26, 2010 Toronto G20 Protests went on for two days during the G20 Summit as thousands of police, 1,1oo private security firms hired to stop protesters and several police cars were lit on fire.
US corporate businesses along Yonge, Queen Streets such as Starbucks, Bell Canada, Urban Brick, American Apparel and Nike windows were all smashed in during the protesters. See all the photos as Toronto burns up with anger against the G20 and G8 Summit protests held in Ontario Canada.
Protesters were stopped at every block and kept away from the 20 people that control the world economy and included Greenpeace, Amnesty International, poverty groups and a group of militant protesters that left their message on Toronto’s streets.”
DINNERTIME in our home, once a source of great pride and pleasure, became a rather lackluster affair after the birth of our son in 2008. Mostly it involved repurposing takeout leftovers or, on a more ambitious night, mixing chunks of frozen vegetable purées, meant for the baby, with macaroni and cheese. It was family dinner in the sense that it was marginally edible food, consumed together in the home, but prepared with the same care and passion I brought to refilling the cat’s water bowl.
In Brooklyn, co-op members, from left, Christine Algozo, Amy Scallon and Dana Casey serve themselves brunch provided by the swap host, Kristen Prinzo. French toast, vegetable frittata and cheese were on the menu.
Read more at NYT>>
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN
The French have a phrase, “He missed an excellent opportunity to keep his mouth shut.” That’s certainly true of Obama last Tuesday when he rolled out a big gun from the arsenal of White House crisis management, an Oval Office address. Excluding FDR’s radio chats of the 1930s, there’s scant evidence across the past forty years that as a venue for rallying the nation, the presidential sanctum did Obama’s predecessors as president much good. In Obama’s case many of his stoutest supporters in the press could say little in its favor. Obama would have been advised to say nothing and leave the nation to the evening’s main business, the NBA playoffs.
read on at Counterpunch>>
By Jordan Flaherty: As BP’s deepwater well continues to discharge oil into the Gulf, the economic and public health effects are already being felt across coastal communities. But it’s likely this is only the beginning. From the bayous of southern Louisiana to the city of New Orleans, many fear this disaster represents not only environmental devastation, but also cultural extinction for peoples who have made their lives here for generations.
read more at Counterpunch
Read Cockburn’s latest on the spill and BP.
“What goes around comes around. One of the greatest bailouts in history came in 1953, when the Eisenhower administration authorized a CIA-backed coup in Iran. The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, owned by the British government, had been expropriated and nationalized in 1951 by unanimous vote of Iran’s parliament. The ’53 coup evicted prime minister Mohammed Mossadeq and installed Shah Reza Pahlevi, the creature of the West’s oil companies , with full tyrannical powers. The AIOC got back 40 per cent of its old concession and became an internationally owned consortium, renamed… British Petroleum.”
BP is using federal agencies to shield itself from public accountability and is actually disappearing oiled wildlife.
Orange Beach, Alabama – While President Obama insists that the federal government is firmly in control of the response to BP’s spill in the Gulf, people in coastal communities where I visited last week in Louisiana and Alabama know an inconvenient truth: BP — not our president — controls the response. In fact, people on the ground say things are out of control in the gulf.
This article was first published in Alternet.
Why are the hoppin’-mad Teabaggers so oddly quiet these days, ever since the BP oil disaster? That’s what Thomas Frank, author of What’s The Matter With Kansas? asked last week in his column, “Laissez-faire Meets The Oil Spill.” Ideologically, it’s painfully obvious why the Teabaggers are now the Teagaggers: their free-market gospel got mugged by oil-drenched reality — a reality so horrific that even pollster Frank Luntz couldn’t spin the BP disaster as the government’s fault. Best to just shut up when you’re that wrong.
But there’s another, more concrete reason why the Tea Party revolutionaries melted back into their suburbs as soon as the enormity of the Gulf spill disaster hit: The Tea Party evolved out of the pro-offshore drilling astroturf movement in 2008. They even share some of the same organizers and front groups, from PR operative like Eric Odom, to advocacy groups like FreedomWorks, whose combined efforts on the “Drill Here! Drill now!” astroturf campaign succeeded in opening up all of America’s coastlines and waters to offshore drilling, overturning a 27-year ban thanks to threats of “a Boston-style Tea Party,” as one Republican put it in the summer of 2008.
We have been following this movement from the beginning. Back in February 2009, on the eve of the first Tea Party protest, we published the first investigative article exposing the hidden relationship between the fake-”spontaneous” Tea Party protests that month, and the Republican machine that backed and promoted the campaign. Our research led again and again to the right-wing Koch brothers, who are worth a combined $32 billion as owners of the largest private oil company in America, Koch Industries. Koch-linked front groups like FreedomWorks and the Sam Adams Alliance (named after the leader of the original Boston Tea Party) played key roles in both the 2008 campaign to deregulate offshore drilling, and in the Tea Party movement.
Visualizing Victory in the Gulf of Mexico
Of Booms and Skimmers
By GREG MOSES – via counterpunch
If Americans want to visualize victory over the oil spill invasion that threatens our beloved Gulf of Mexico, then we should call for a federalized war of skimmers and booms.
We should not be timid about it. We should visualize a series of booms in concentric rings that contain the spill, with skimmers at work within each ring, sucking up the oil. Industry websites claim that extracted oil can then be mixed with chemicals and reused for fuel.
The effort might also be helped by supertankers “that come in empty, with the huge valves and huge pumps that they have to suck the oil off the surface of the sea so it stops drifting into the wetlands”, says former president of Shell Oil John Hofmeister in a recent interview with the BBC.
As part of this winnable war, dispersants must be stopped.
Our winning hope for this war is nicely exemplified by the Coast Guard Cutter Walnut, which just left Hawaii for her 6,000-mile journey to the Gulf.
“The Walnut is 225-feet long, has a crew of about 50 people, and boasts state-of-the-art communications equipment and oil skimming capabilities,” reports Minna Sugimoto for Hawaii News Now. “Designed after the Exxon Valdez disaster in 1989, the Walnut comes equipped with a boom and pump oil collection system.”
“The skimmer sucks the oil in and pumps it into a bladder,” says Jeffrey Randall, U.S. Coast Guard commanding officer. “That bladder is then filled up, transferred to another vessel that takes it away.”
“Coast Guard officials say the crew goes through annual spill response training, but this will be the first time it’ll actually put oil in the equipment,” Sugimoto reports.
As early as April 29 the Los Angeles Times was reporting the Navy’s mobilization of booms and skimmers and the “opening (of) two of its bases in Mississippi and Florida as staging areas.” WLOX- Biloxi reporter Steve Phillips filed an eyewitness account of the activity from the Gulfport Seabee base.
Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy is commander of the US Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) which includes the Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV). Within these commands we find initial offerings of equipment, expertise, and training that will be required to defend the Gulf of Mexico against the oil spill invasion.
“A team of NAVSEA professionals are working around the clock to protect the sensitive coast lined with oil booms and perform open-ocean skimming at the source,” says Vice Adm. McCoy at a web page posted by the Naval News Service (NNS).
“NAVSEA’s Chief Engineer for Underwater Salvage (Capt. Patrick Keenan) has been an integral member of BP’s Engineering Command Cell that has assembled the best and brightest minds from around the world to try to stop the leak,” said Vice Adm. McCoy.
“With a single phone call from the U.S. Coast Guard, 66,000 feet of open ocean boom and nine self-contained skimming systems, and the professionals to install and operate them, were dispatched (representing the initial shipment). That’s your Navy — a 24-hour Navy, incredibly ready and trained to respond to a wide variety of national taskings,” boasts Vice Adm. McCoy.
While the Coast Guard and Navy probably do not have enough booms and skimmers on hand to supply the war for the salvation of the Gulf Coast, they do appear to have sufficient knowledge to gather and organize the inventories and people needed. Surely there are enough booms and skimmers in the world that can be air-transported quickly and organized effectively.
Meanwhile, activists and biologists are converging on a consensus that toxic dispersants must be stopped.
“The use of dispersants is a crime on top of a crime, sanctioned by a federal agency, Lisa Jackson, and the EPA,” writes Elizabeth Cook at New Orleans IndyMedia. “It is the rape of the Gulf of Mexico, its sea creatures, and the people who depend on this ecosystem for a living.“
“Diluting the evidence, this (dispersant) solution was designed only for public relations, even as it made the situation much worse,” argues Linh Dinh at CounterPunch. “Imagine Agent Orange in the water. Thousands of people are already sick, with millions more to come.”
With enough booms to contain the spill, and enough skimmers to extract the oil from the water, there would appear to be no need to add the risk of toxic dispersants to the already toxic spill.
When on Sunday’s “State of the Nation” program, CNN’s Candy Crowley asked Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen to describe the military response to the Gulf oil spill, the answer she got was a textbook case of incoherence.
Within the space of 141 words the Chair of the Joint Chiefs zig-zagged between “a support role” that simply responded to BP requests on the one hand to “doing everything we can . . . with every capability that we have” on the other. His confusing ambivalence was perhaps best expressed in the sentence: “And as best I’ve been able to understand, the technical lead for this in our country really is the industry.”
While it may be true that the deep-water attempt to stop the oil spill belongs primarily to industry engineers (although, along with Dr. John, we may protest why this has to be the case) there is ample evidence that the military is perfectly qualified to take command of pollution control.
Remember Dunkirk or the Berlin Airlift? There are times in military history when impossible missions have been accomplished through mobilized determination. We should not give up hope that the war to the save the Gulf of Mexico can go down in history as one of those remarkable efforts.
Greg Moses is editor of TexasWorker.org and author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Barbarism on the High Seas
America’s Complicity in Evil
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
As I write at 5pm on Monday, May 31, all day has passed since the early morning reports of the Israeli commando attack on the unarmed ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, and there has been no response from President Obama except to say that he needed to learn “all the facts about this morning’s tragic events” and that Israeli prime minister Netanyahu had canceled his plans to meet with him at the White House. Thus has Obama made America complicit once again in Israel’s barbaric war crimes. Just as the US Congress voted to deep-six Judge Goldstone’s report on Israel’s war crimes committed in Israel’s January 2009 invasion of Gaza, Obama has deep-sixed Israel’s latest act of barbarism by pretending that he doesn’t know what has happened.
No one in the world will believe that Israel attacked ships in international waters carrying Israeli citizens, a Nobel Laureate, elected politicians, and noted humanitarians bringing medicines and building materials to Palestinians in Gaza, who have been living in the rubble of their homes without repairs or medicines since January 2009, without first clearing the crime with its American protector. Without America’s protection, Israel, a totally artificial state, could not exist. No one in the world will believe that America’s spy apparatus did not detect the movement of the Israeli attack force toward the aid ships in international waters in an act of piracy, killing 20, wounding 50, and kidnapping the rest. Obama’s pretense at ignorance confirms his complicity.