A Trans Response to Julian Vigo These Are Not the Radicals You’re Looking For

From Counter Punch:  http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/06/11/these-are-not-the-radicals-youre-looking-for/

June 11, 2013

In her recent CounterPunch column “The Left Hand of Darkness,” Julian Vigo is very concerned about the silencing of radical feminists by transgender people. Choosing to focus on a very small subset of radical feminists who pride themselves on being “trans-critical,” she goes through a laundry list of people all claiming the same thing: that transgender identities and specifically the existence of trans women is bad for women and a tool of the patriarchy. Despite the truncated timeline she provides, this is not a new topic. This sect of feminism has been making this claim since the 70’s. The arguments that Vigo reiterates here are not new, or radical, but regressive and patriarchal.

What these “radical” feminists want is not a dialogue, but the ability to critique a marginalized community from the outside, without having to engage at all with how that community defines or speaks about itself. An external critique of a marginalized community is not a value neutral action, and it certainly is not a dialogue. You can’t have a dialogue with people that you exclude from the conversation. All you can do is talk about them without having to be accountable to their experiences of their lives and the impact your words have on how they are treated. Could you have a conversation with someone who insists that you give up your identity before even speaking with them?

She begins by accepting, uncritically, that there is no such thing as being privileged for not being transgender. She mentions that transgender activists make this critique of radical feminists, and just lets it fizzle out, with no further mention. This is the last time that anything vaguely resembling the words of any transgender activist is seen. For a piece on dialogue, its rather startling that there are no voices from the trans community at all. She makes general statements about what trans activists are reported to have said or believe but no attributions, no names, no sources. Even when discussing threats made against the radical feminists she profiles, nothing is given to allow the reader to see these threats for themselves. Considering that there are entire websites, run by some of the people profiled in her column, devoted to profiling the dangerous threats of trans women existing, it shouldn’t be that hard. Instead, trans people are treated as a faceless monolith, and any actual words are not referenced.

Vigo doesn’t show any proof that the people she’s discussing are trying to talk to the trans community, only that they want to talk about it without having to listen to what the community says about itself. She conveniently forgets to mention the ways in which some of her featured folk have refused a dialogue all together.

One example of someone who has shut down this dialogue is Cathy Brennan.  Brennan is well known throughout the trans community for outing outing trans people she disagrees with, for stalking and harassing trans people , particularly trans women, and for working for a law firm that defends predatory payday lenders and financial firms that are known for fraudulently foreclosing on people’s homes. This is a person who has no feminist activism to her name that isn’t centered around attacking trans women, who uses the institutional violence of the American legal system as a cudgel against a community that makes up the majority of victims of physical violence against LGBT people and then uses their reaction to her as justification to antagonize them. She even attributes anonymous threats made against her to the trans community with no evidence in order to justify what she does. Please take note that none of this was mentioned in Vigo’s piece, and is all available with a few minutes of Googling.

How, exactly, are we supposed to have a dialogue with someone who does that? All attempts at dialogue have been not only rejected, but met with outright abuse. There is no opening for dialogue here, and there never was. To put the responsibility for dialogue on those being subjected to this treatment is expecting those who are imprisoned for surviving violence to ask nicely that the violence stop.

Likening accusations of transphobia to censorship, she states:

“As a result of this assault on dialogue, the true violence of transphobia (ie. assault, rape, murder and many other forms of discrimination) is cheapened and diluted in the larger space of discursive disagreements with feminists.”

Since when does someone who is not experiencing a particular form of oppression dictating how that community deals with its oppression a particularly radical thing to do? What gives her the perspective to say what the true violence against a community that she is not part of is? What gives her the unique perspective to know what “true violence” is? Surely a similar statement from a man telling feminists what to focus on would be seen as ridiculous, so what gives Vigo the ability to do the same to trans activists?

Continue reading at:  http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/06/11/these-are-not-the-radicals-youre-looking-for/

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Delaware House approves transgender rights bill

From The Washington Blade:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/06/18/delaware-house-approves-transgender-rights-bill/

on June 18, 2013

OVER, Del.—The Delaware House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a bill that would add gender identity and expression to the state’s anti-discrimination and hate crimes laws.

The 24-17 vote came less than a week after Senate Bill 97 passed out of the House Administration Committee.

State Reps. Michael Barbieri (D-Newark,) Paul Baumbach (D-Newark,) Andria Bennett (D-Dover,) Stephanie Bolden (D-Wilmington,) Gerald Brady (D-Wilmington,) Debra Heffernan (D-Brandywine Hundred,) Earl Jaques, Jr., (D-Glasgow,) James Johnson (D-Holloway Terrace,) Quinton Johnson (D-Middletown,) Helene Keeley (D-Wilmington,) John Kowalko, Jr., (D-Newark,) Valerie Longhurst (D-Bear), Michael Mulrooney (D-Pennwood,) Edward Osienski (D-Beecher’s Lot,) Charles Potter, Jr. (D-Wilmington,) Mike Ramone (R-Middle Run Valley,) Darryl Scott (D-Dover,) Bryan Short (D-Brandywine Hundred,) Melanie George Smith (D-Bear,) John Viola (D-Newark,) Rebecca Walker (D-Townsend,) Dennis Williams (D-Talleyville,) Kimberly Williams (D-Klair Estates) and House Speaker Peter Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) voted for the bill. State Reps. John Atkins (D-Millsboro,) Donald Blakey (R-Dover,) Ruth Briggs King (R-Georgetown,) William Carson (D-Smyrna,) Timothy Dukes (R-Laurel,) Ronald Gray (R-Selbyville,) Deborah Hudson (R-Fairthorne,) Harvey Kenton (R-Millsboro,) Joseph Miro (R-Pike Creek Valley,) John Mitchell, Jr., (D-Wilmington,) William Outten (R-Harrington,) W. Charles Paradee (D-Dover,) Harold Peterman (R-Milford,) Stephen Smyk (R-Milton,) Jeffrey Spiegelman (R-Dover,) David Wilson (R-Bridgeville) and House Minority Leader Daniel Short (R-Milford) opposed SB 97.

The Delaware Senate earlier this month approved the measure.

“This bill to me is about fairness and equality,” Bolden said.

Daniel Short called Delaware Family Policy Council President Nicole Theis to speak against SB 97 during the debate that lasted more than two hours.

“The bottom line is a concern about my rights,” Theis said. “I don’t want to go into a locker room with my small children and not have any rights.”

Briggs King suggested the passage of SB 97 could prompt lawmakers to seek protections for those who are struggling with obesity. She further said her Sussex County constituents have described the measure as one that reflects “a special interest and special concerns.”

“This bill is not about those things that we know they are born with,” Briggs King said. “It’s more about subjective and discerning preferences, feelings and choices.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/06/18/delaware-house-approves-transgender-rights-bill/

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Gov. Cuomo, Trans Women Must Be Included in the Women’s Equality Act

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sunny-bjerk/gov-cuomo-trans-women-must-be-included-in-the-womens-equality-act_b_3450537.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


On Tuesday, June 3, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo finally followed up on his so-called Women’s Equality Act (WEA) legislation, which aims to “end discrimination and inequality based on gender” across the state. The legislation features a 10-point plan to address gender-based discrimination and includes measures to:

  • Achieve pay equity (in New York women earn 16-percent less than men in similar or equal positions)
  • End sexual harassment in all New York workplaces (currently, sexual harassment is not prohibited in workplaces with three or fewer employees — seriously — and women accounted for 75 percent of all sexual harassment claims in 2011
  • Stop source-of-income discrimination (women in New York account for 76 percent of all housing voucher recipients, yet many landlords can refuse to rent to recipients who use these vouchers, greatly harming women)
  • Stop housing discrimination for domestic violence victims (currently, women account for 85 percents of the state’s domestic violence victims, yet under current law, domestic violence victims are not protected against housing discrimination)

While the Women’s Equality Act certainly aims to remedy a portion of the wrongs that women still face, the legislation completely neglects to address the vulnerability of transgender women.

Trans women — and the transgender population as a whole — face significant levels of discrimination and violence in their daily lives and need the same type of protections that are outlined in the WEA. Indeed, as shown in the 2013 report “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Hate Violence in 2012,” transgender women are “2.14 times as likely” to experience discrimination, threats/harassment, or intimidation as cisgender individuals, and this rate is even higher for trans women of color.

What’s more, according to the report, the greatest perpetrators of discrimination, threats, and intimidation against trans women continue to be landlords and employers. (Police officers also continue to be frequent perpetrators of violence against trans women and the transgender community as a whole, though I will have to address this in a subsequent post.) These alarming figures are also detailed in the report “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey,” disputing any notion that trans women still occupy a space of male privilege. Clearly, when people have the power to extend or rescind job offers, or have the power to confirm or deny housing to a person because of her gender, something is wrong.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sunny-bjerk/gov-cuomo-trans-women-must-be-included-in-the-womens-equality-act_b_3450537.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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Transgender man finally gets name change; Va. judge refers to him as ‘she,’ ‘miss’

From LGBTQNation:   http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2013/06/transgender-man-granted-name-change-va-judge-refers-to-him-as-she-miss/

Monday, June 17, 2013

LOUISA, Va. – A Virginia transgender man on Monday was granted a name change after having it denied earlier this year by a judge who asked for medical documents proving he was transitioning, contrary to state law.

Jacob Haley, 25, was denied the name change in February when Judge Timothy Sanner said previous name change cases had included doctors notes.

Under Virginia law, name changes “shall contain no identifying information other than the applicant’s former name or names, new name, and current address,” and medical documentation is only required for changing genders on a birth certificate, and similarly for Virginia state ID’s like driver’s licenses.

Sanner, again presided over Monday’s hearing, where he briefly mentioned that they had received criticism after Haley’s original court appearance.

According to Sanner, individuals had contacted the court and said his actions were discriminatory.

Sanner, who repeatedly referred to Haley as “she” and “Miss Haley” throughout the proceedings, defended himself by saying that name changes can be denied to individuals seeking a name change for fraudulent reasons.

And in a bizarre comment made during the proceedings, Sanner added, “there are different rights and responsibilities attached to different genders.”

But during Monday’s hearing, Sanner again mentioned previous cases that had included medical notes with name change applications.

Complete article at:  http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2013/06/transgender-man-granted-name-change-va-judge-refers-to-him-as-she-miss/

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Food Stamp Cuts Might Come With Drug Testing

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/19/food-stamp-cuts_n_3465012.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037


WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives will soon decide whether states should be able to make food stamp recipients pee in cups to prove they’re not on drugs.

The drug testing measure is one of more than 100 amendments to the House farm bill up for a vote in the coming days. The underlying legislation would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which currently serves 47 million Americans, by roughly 2.5 percent, resulting in 2 million fewer people receiving benefits. Among the amendments are a Democratic one that would undo the cut and a Republican one that would make it deeper.

The drug testing amendment, sponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), is the latest in a longstanding Republican effort to make people on public assistance prove they don’t use illegal drugs. Drug testing bills have proliferated in state legislatures in recent years, and last year congressional Republicans succeeded in changing federal law so states could eventually test unemployment insurance claimants.

“My amendment to the Farm Bill allows states to determine the best method for administering drug screening programs for SNAP applicants,” Hudson said in an emailed statement. “This is a clear and obvious problem in our communities as nearly thirty states have introduced legislation to drug test for welfare programs. We have a moral obligation to equip the states with the tools they need to discourage the use of illegal drugs.”

Republicans pushing drug test bills in state legislatures have usually cited anecdotes from local businesses as evidence of the problem. Most studies have found that people on public assistance use drugs at a higher rate than the general population, but not by much, according to a review by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/19/food-stamp-cuts_n_3465012.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037

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Everything You Need To Know About The 20-Week Abortion Ban Advancing In The House

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/06/18/2171791/national-20-week-abortion-ban-explainer/

By Tara Culp-Ressler
on Jun 18, 2013

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives will vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a measure spearheaded by Reps. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) that would cut off legal access to abortion services at 20 weeks after fertilization. It represents the most restrictive abortion bill to come to a vote in either chamber over the past decade. Here’s what you need to know about this attack on women’s reproductive rights — and how it fits into a broader, coordinated nationwide campaign to slowly chip away at abortion access:

It’s based on the scientifically-disputed theory that fetuses can feel pain before the third trimester of pregnancy.

So-called “fetal pain” measures are based on junk science that represents a minority position among medical professionals. Most doctors don’t believe that fetuses can feel pain until much later in pregnancy, after the point of viability (generally considered to be around 24 weeks), and scientific research has repeatedly confirmed this position. Nevertheless, abortion opponents have successfully stoked emotional outrage surrounding later-term abortion — particularly following the high-profile murder trial of illegal abortion provider Kermit Gosnell — by twisting the facts to make it appear that these abortions are always barbaric procedures.

It has sparked more controversy over Republicans’ attitudes toward rape.

The original version of Franks’ legislation did not include an exception for victims of rape or incest. Defending the lack of an exception in these cases, the Arizona congressman last week claimed that “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.” Franks is just the latest Republican to make an offensive comment about rape victims, and his comments inspired comparisons to former Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) infamous assertion that women don’t often get pregnant from “legitimate rape” because the body “has ways of shutting that whole thing down.” Following the controversy that erupted from his statements, Franks revised the legislation at the last minute to include an exemption for survivors of rape and incest — but only if rape victims first report the sexual crime to the police, and if incest victims are minors.

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/06/18/2171791/national-20-week-abortion-ban-explainer/

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Manning trial focuses on Gitmo files

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NSA surveillance is an attack on American citizens, says Noam Chomsky

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/19/nsa-surveillance-attack-american-citizens-noam-chomsky

Governments will use whatever technology is available to combat their primary enemy – their own population, says critic

in Bonn
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 19 June 2013

The actions of the US government in spying on its and other countries’ citizens have been sharply criticised by Noam Chomsky, the prominent political thinker, as attacks on democracy and the people.

“Governments should not have this capacity. But governments will use whatever technology is available to them to combat their primary enemy – which is their own population,” he told the Guardian.

In his first public comment on the scandal that has enveloped the US, UK and other governments, as well as internet companies such as Google and Microsoft, Chomsky said he was not overly surprised technology and corporations were being used in this way.

“This is obviously something that should not be done. But it is a little difficult to be too surprised by it,” he said. “They [governments and corporations] take whatever is available, and in no time it is being used against us, the population. Governments are not representative. They have their own power, serving segments of the population that are dominant and rich.”

Chomsky, who has strongly supported the Occupy movement and spoken out against the Obama administration‘s use of drones, warned that young people were much less shocked at being spied on and did not view it as such a problem.

“Polls in the US indicate there is generational issue here that someone ought to look into – my impression is that younger people are less offended by this than the older generation. It may have to do with the exhibitionist character of the internet culture, with Facebook and so on,” he said. “On the internet, you think everything is going to be public.”

Other technologies could also come to be used to spy more effectively on people, he added. “They don’t want people to know what they’re doing. They want to be able to use [new technology] against their own people.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/19/nsa-surveillance-attack-american-citizens-noam-chomsky

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The Terror Con

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_terror_con_20130618/

By Robert Scheer
Jun 18, 2013

For defense contractors, the government officials who write them mega checks, and the hawks in the media who cheer them on, the name of the game is threat inflation. And no one has been better at it than the folks at Booz Allen Hamilton, the inventors of the new boondoggle called cyberwarfare.

That’s the company, under contract with the National Security Agency, that employed whistle-blower Edward Snowden, the information security engineer whose revelation of Booz Allen’s enormously profitable and pervasive spying on Americans now threatens the firm’s profitability and that of its parent hedge fund, the Carlyle Group.

Booz Allen, whose top personnel served in key positions at the NSA and vice versa after the inconvenient collapse of the Cold War, has been attempting to substitute terrorist for communist as the enemy of choice. A difficult switch indeed for the military-industrial complex about which Dwight Eisenhower, the general-turned-president, had so eloquently warned us.

But just when the good times for war profiteers seemed to be forever in the past, there came 9/11 and the terrorist enemy, the gift that keeps on giving, for acts of terror always will occur in a less than perfect world, serving as an ideal excuse for squandering resources, as well as our freedoms.

Just ask New York Times columnists Thomas Friedman and Bill Keller. Rising to the defense of NSA snooping on a scale never before imagined in human history, they warn us that if there was a second 9/11-type attack, we would lose all of our civil liberties, so we should be grateful for this trade-off.

“I believe that if there is one more 9/11—or worse, an attack involving nuclear material—it could lead to the end of the open society as we know it,” Friedman wrote in his June 11 column.

No nation in history has ever possessed such an imbalance of military superiority and the ability to ward off foreign threats without sacrificing its core values. Never has this country been as vulnerable to foreign attacks as when the founders approved our Constitution with its Fourth Amendment and other protections of individual sovereignty against an intrusive government. They did so out of the conviction that individual freedom makes us stronger rather than weaker as a nation. In short, they trusted in the essential wisdom of the people as opposed to the pundits who deride it.

Defending Friedman’s column, Keller wrote Sunday:

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_terror_con_20130618/

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Greenwald: NSA Director is ‘Misleading’ the Public

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/06/19-10

Administration reading from the ‘rule by fear’ handbook

Jacob Chamberlain

NSA Director Keith Alexander has been misleading the public by saying that the NSA’s shadowy surveillance programs, exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden this month, have thwarted terrorist attacks, Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald told CNN‘s Piers Morgan Tuesday night.

 “It’s not that they’re lying. It’s misleading,” Greenwald said to Morgan, referring to recent claims made by Alexander that the NSA’s “dragnet” surveillance programs, have specifically helped stopped more than 50 terrorist attacks.

Greenwald emphasized that there is yet to be any evidence that shows the NSA has thwarted a terrorist attack with data collected through the programs exposed by Snowden:

There is zero evidence … that this program of collecting everybody’s phone records as opposed to just the terrorists’ in any way keeps us safer or is necessary to stop terrorist plots.

Likewise, Senators Mark Udall and Ron Wyden, both members of the Senate intelligence committee, released a statement last week stating that they are not convinced by the NSA director’s claims:

We have not yet seen any evidence showing that the NSA’s dragnet collection of Americans’ phone records has produced any uniquely valuable intelligence.

And the Guardian pointed out Tuesday that one of Alexander’s recent examples has holes in it. Alexander claims that he NSA’s surveillance systems thwarted an alleged planned bombing of the New York Stock Exchange through monitoring the communications of Missouri-based suspect Khalid Ouazzan.

However, as the Guardian pointed out, Ouazzani has never been accused of the crime that the NSA supposedly averted.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/06/19-10

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Hundreds of thousands protest throughout Brazil

From The World Socialist Web Site:  http://wsws.org/en/articles/2013/06/19/braz-j19.html

By Dorian Griscom
19 June 2013

On Monday, June 17 Brazil saw its largest protests in at least 20 years. Hundreds of thousands marched in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia, the country’s leading cities, while smaller demonstrations occurred in other cities around the country.

Estimates of the numbers who took to the streets nationwide ranged as high as nearly 1 million. In Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city and commercial capital, an estimated 250,000 demonstrated, and in Rio de Janeiro another 150,000 filled Avenida Rio Branco and much of the city’s downtown. In the capital of Brasilia, some 5,000 youth occupied the lobby of the National Congress, while hundreds of others climbed onto the building’s roof. There were also protests in Fortaleza, Vitoria, Maceio, Belem, Salvador, Curitiba, Porto Alegre and Recife.

Monday’s mass protests broadened and deepened a wave of smaller protests that were initially launched in response to transit fare hikes implemented by various city governments across the country, most notably in São Paulo.

These first demonstrations were staged in reaction to seemingly small price increases for use of public transportation, averaging between 5 and 10 cents (in US dollars) per ticket.

Much as in the events surrounding the protests in Turkey’s Taksim square, the brutal repression unleashed against these initial demonstrators by Brazil’s military police helped trigger nationwide anger. As a result the greatest number took to the streets since at least the 1992 demonstrations demanding the impeachment of then-President Fernando Collor de Mello and possibly since the 1984 mass movement demanding direct elections at the end of the military dictatorship.

The protests on Monday expressed far more general grievances, decrying rampant government corruption, lack of adequate basic services, widespread poverty and the squandering of billions in state funds on the construction of lavish stadiums for the Confederations Cup and World Cup soccer tournaments instead of investing in education and healthcare. At the heart of these grievances lies the immense gulf between the wealthy ruling class and the working population in this country of 200 million, which is one of the most socially polarized in the world.

Continue reading at:  http://wsws.org/en/articles/2013/06/19/braz-j19.html

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Mass Protests Sweep Brazil in Uproar over Public Services Cuts & High Costs of World Cup, Olympics

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Gagged by Big Ag

From Mother Jones:  http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/06/ag-gag-laws-mowmar-farms

Horrific abuse. Rampant contamination. And the crime is…exposing it?

July/August 2013

Shawn Lyons was dead to rights—and he knew it. More than a month had passed since People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had released a video of savage mistreatment at the MowMar Farms hog confinement facility where he worked as an entry-level herdsman in the breeding room. The three enormous sow barns in rural Greene County, Iowa, were less than five years old and, until recently, had raised few concerns. They seemed well ventilated and well supplied with water from giant holding tanks. Their tightly tacked steel siding always gleamed white in the sun. But the PETA hidden-camera footage shot by two undercover activists over a period of months in the summer of 2008, following up on a tip from a former employee, showed a harsh reality concealed inside.

The recordings caught one senior worker beating a sow repeatedly on the back with a metal gate rod, a supervisor turning an electric prod on a sow too crippled to stand, another worker shoving a herding cane into a sow’s vagina. In one close-up, a distressed sow who’d been attacking her piglets was shown with her face royal blue from the Prima Tech marking dye sprayed into her nostrils “to get the animal high.” In perhaps the most disturbing sequence, a worker demonstrated the method for eutha­nizing underweight piglets: taking them by the hind legs and smashing their skulls against the concrete floor—a technique known as “thumping.” Their bloodied bodies were then tossed into a giant bin, where video showed them twitching and paddling until they died, sometimes long after. Though his actions were not nearly as vicious as those of some coworkers who’d been fired immediately, Lyons knew, as the video quickly became national news, that the consequences for him could be severe.

As we sat recently in the tiny, tumbledown house he grew up in and now shares with his wife and two kids, Lyons acknowledged—as he did to the sheriff’s deputy back then—that he had prodded sows with clothespins, hit them with broad, wooden herding boards, and pulled them by their ears, but only in an effort, he said, to get pregnant sows that had spent the last 114 days immobilized in gestation crates up and moving to the farrowing crates where they would give birth. Lyons said he never intended to hurt the hogs, that he was just “scared to death” of the angry sows “who had spent their lives in a little pen”—and this was how he had been trained to deal with them. Lyons had watery blue eyes that seemed always on the verge of tears and spoke in a skittish mutter that would sometimes disappear all the way into silence as he rubbed his thin beard. “You do feel sorry for them, because they don’t have much room to move around,” he said, but if they get spooked coming out of their crates, “you’re in for a fight.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/06/ag-gag-laws-mowmar-farms

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Report Confirms Coal Companies Receive Massive U.S. Taxpayer Subsidies for Mining on Public Lands

From Eco Watch:  http://ecowatch.com/2013/coal-companies-receive-taxpayer-subsidies/

Sierra Club
June 12, 2013

Yesterday, the Department of Interior’s (DOI) Office of the Inspector General released a report confirming U.S. coal companies receive massive subsidies from U.S. taxpayers for mining leases on public lands. The Inspector General’s findings come on the heels of the Institute for Energy Economics & Financial Analysis 2012 report which revealed that the current Bureau of Land Management (BLM) leasing program cuts U.S. taxpayers out of billions of dollars in revenue.

Yesterday’s Inspector General report faults the BLM for failing to take into account potential profits for coal export and for failing to follow an Interior Secretary Order intended to ensure unbiased evaluations of the fair market value for federal coal.

The report explains, “Since even a 1-cent-per-ton undervaluation in the fair market value calculation for a sale can result in millions of dollars in lost revenues, correcting the identified weaknesses could produce significant returns to the government.”

Bill Corcoran, deputy director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign issued the following statement in response:

We are heartened by the DOI Inspector General’s thorough evaluation of the seriously flawed practices of the Bureau of Land Management’s coal leasing program. This report is the first step in giving Interior Secretary Sally Jewell the tools needed to facilitate a long overdue revamping of the BLM’s public leasing program.

The BLM has been operating outside of Secretarial orders for years, opening the floodgates for the fleecing of U.S. taxpayers by coal corporations to the tune of $30 billion of lost revenue. It’s a testament to how flawed the program truly is when 80 percent of coal leases granted by the BLM are done without a single other competitive bid, and companies like Peabody Energy consistently receive coal leases as low $1.10 per ton.

At a time when American families are still being asked to make difficult economic sacrifices, they are counting on our federal leaders to protect them from being short-changed by those who profit from skirting the law. Now, as we await the release of the Department of Interior’s investigation into coal royalties, we renew our call for a moratorium of all coal leasing on public lands. These federal agencies must get their houses in order to prevent predatory coal companies from further taking advantage of U.S. taxpayers and damaging our economy.

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The Militarization of Fossil Fuels in Canada

From Earth First Newshttp://earthfirstnews.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/the-militarization-of-fossil-fuels-in-canada/

by Winona LaDuke
June 19, 2013

This past week in New Brunswick, the Canadian military came out to protect oil companies. In this case, seismic testing for potential natural gas reserves by Southwestern Energy Company (SWN), a Texas based company working in the province. It’s an image of extreme energy, and perhaps the times.

SWN exercised it’s permit to conduct preliminary testing to assess resource potential for shale gas exploitation. Canadian constitutional law requires the consultation with First Nations, and this has not occurred. That’s when Elsipogtog Mi’gmaq warrior chief, John Levi, seized a vehicle containing seismic testing equipment owned by SWN. Their claim is that fracking is illegal without their permission on their traditional territory. About 65 protesters, including women and children, seized the truck at a gas station and surrounded the vehicle so that it couldn’t be removed from the parking lot. Levi says that SWN broke the law when they first started fracking “in our traditional hunting grounds, medicine grounds, contaminating our waters.” according to reporter Jane Mundy in on line Lawyers and Settlements publication. This may be just the beginning.

On June 9, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) came out en masse, seemingly to protect SWN seismic exploration crews against peaceful protesters – both native and non-Native, blocking Route 126 from seismic thumper trucks. Armed with guns, paddy wagons and twist tie restraints, peaceful protestors were arrested. Four days later the protesting continued, and this time drew the attention of local military personnel. As one Mi’gmag said, “Just who is calling the shots in New Brunswick when the value of the land and water take a backseat to the risks associated with shale gas development?”

The militarization of the energy fields is not new. It’s just more apparent when it’s in a first world country, albeit New Brunswick. New Brunswick is sort of the El Salvador of Canadian provinces, if one looks at the economy, run akin to an oligarchy. New Brunswick’s Irving family empire stretches from oil and gas to media, they are the largest employer in New Brunswick and the primary proponents of the Trans Canada West to East pipeline which will bring tar sands oil to the St. Johns refinery owned by the same family. Irving is the fourth wealthiest family in Canada, the largest employer, land holder and amasses that wealth in the relatively poor province. The Saint John refinery would be a beneficiary of any natural gas fracked in the province. In general, press coverage of Aboriginal issues is sparse there at best.

Continue reading at:  http://earthfirstnews.wordpress.com/2013/06/19/the-militarization-of-fossil-fuels-in-canada/

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Climate Change-Poverty Link Highlighted In World Bank Report

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/19/climate-change-poverty-link_n_3463748.html?utm_hp_ref=green

Associated Press

STOCKHOLM — The World Bank says it will increasingly view its efforts to help developing countries fight poverty through a “climate lens.”

In a report released Wednesday, the international lending institution warned that heat waves, rising seas, more severe storms and other impacts of climate change will trap millions of people in poverty.

As a result, the Washington-based bank said it is stepping up support for efforts to curb climate change and to help the world adapt to it.

“Urgent action is needed to not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also to help countries prepare for a world of dramatic climate change and weather extremes,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.

Already by the 2030s, 40 percent of the land used to grow maize in sub-Saharan Africa will be unable to sustain that crop because of droughts and heat, the report said. Also by that time, sea level rise coupled with more intense cyclones could inundate much of Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, it said.

“At the World Bank Group, we are concerned that unless the world takes bold action now, a disastrously warming planet threatens to put prosperity out of reach of millions and roll back decades of development,” Kim said. “In response we are stepping up our mitigation, adaptation, and disaster risk management work, and will increasingly look at all our business through a `climate lens.'”

In a conference call, bank Vice President Rachel Kyte said the World Bank doubled its lending aimed at adaptation efforts to $4.6 billion in 2012.

She said that money was separate from the adaptation funds transferred from rich to poor countries in U.N. climate talks. The developed countries have pledged to ramp that financing up to $100 billion annually by 2020. Critics say that won’t be enough, pointing to the New York’s recently announced $20 billion plan – for that city alone – to stave off rising seas with flood gates, levees and other defenses.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/19/climate-change-poverty-link_n_3463748.html?utm_hp_ref=green

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