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Sen. Bernie Sanders has been laser-focused on one issue for decades, and it might be time for the government to start making moves. This whole speech is riddled with hugely important thoughts, but some highlights for me were average wages for men and women at 8:19, our changing government at 14:29, and the amount of money concentrated in 25 hedge fund managers at 4:34.
This young man's mom said it all in one Facebook post. To me, this is exactly what parenting is about: accepting our children for who they are and loving them unconditionally.
Be sure to hit the "see more" button in the actual Facebook post below. This mama had more to say!
These two young women were raised to see each as "the other." But in this powerful performance, they confront and untangle the stereotypes that have worked so hard to keep them apart. Makes me wonder how different the world might be if we all spent a little more time focusing on our similarities.
This wow-so-effing-amazing video was recorded at the Brave New Voices 2013 Quarter Finals in Washington, D.C. The performers are Amina Iro and Hannah Halpern. See more on YouTube, or check out the organization on Facebook.
If the economy is working well for you, congratulations! You’re among the lucky few who are served by capitalism. But if things go the way they have been for the last several decades — with poor people staying poor and a lot of others getting poorer — capitalism as we know it won’t last. Thankfully, we have options. Revolution is one of them. But probably not the kind most people think of.
During the evening of Wednesday April 9th. 3 Bank atms in Seattle had their credit card slots sealed shut. This was done in solidarity with the hunger strikers at the Northwest Detention and for Amélie, Fallon and Carlos.
- Some AnarchistsTags: 5E SolidaritySeattleCategory: Actions
THE LEFTIST PROTEST GHETTO AND THE ANARCHIST SUBCULTURE: A Review of ‘Fireworks, Spring 2014, Issue 3 - By Kevin Keating
The anarchist subculture and the leftist protest ghetto are expressions of the fact that there is no opposition to capitalism in the contemporary United States. By opposition I don’t mean an occasional deft line in a movie review in the New York Times or junior varsity insurrectionaries posting quotes from The Coming Insurrection on their Facebook pages. Opposition to capitalism means ongoing public resistance that can have an impact on the larger society around us. It has to be credible – this means taken seriously by friend and foe alike. It is not a function of the fantasy projections of a subculture. It does not exist to reproduce the existence of a subculture. It doesn’t mean empty ritual activity ignored by everyone other than people prone to engage in empty ritual activity. It means disruptive collective action by the people who perform the crucial tasks animating the market order around us. It establishes an easy to
reproduce template of analysis and action that can be used by other rebellious wage earners. Right now nothing like this, and no effort to catalyze this, is taking place in the US.
The anarchist scene and the protest ghetto are distinct from one another but with the happy precipitous decline of the Marxist-Leninist left the two increasingly overlap like circles in a Venn diagram. One expression of this is seen in a San Francisco Bay Area anarchist news magazine and web page called Fireworks. An examination of the most recent issue of Fireworks illustrates what happens when the anarchist subculture and the leftist protest ghetto converge.
Articles in Fireworks Issue 3, Spring 2014 (F3) make some reference to events involving working class people who don’t hang out at demos. F3 has an extremely summary piece about a summer 2013 strike by SF Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) employees. The overall quality of writing in F3 is quite good and the “Google News Round-Up” overview is excellent. However most of F3 is devoted to struggles of prisoners, police antics in the gentrification of an aquatic area where people live on boats, a respectful interview with some Marxist-Leninists, a slapdash piece on Mission District gentrification and concerns with the escalating reach of surveillance technologies. Fourteen out of twenty-three pages of content are devoted to these concerns. The BART strike article is less than a single column on a page with a three column layout. This piece gives no indication that the people who do Fireworks had any involvement with the BART strike and BART
employees. The Mission District gentrification piece offers a high school book report caliber of analysis no different from a similar example of practical disengagement from any fight against Mission gentrification in the second print issue of Fireworks. The Mission article in F3 includes a reference to partisans of state capitalism in the wars in Central America in the 1980’s as participants in “revolutionary struggles.” Whatever the left wing of capital calls “revolutionary” gets a free pass from Fireworks.
The authors of Fireworks display a tremendous amount of emotional commitment to people who are totally dispossessed and subjugated like prisoners in California jails and penitentiaries and boat squatters. On a gut level this feels admirable. It is also an expression of how contemporary US anarchism – to the degree it exists at all outside of its subcultural safety zone -- is a worldview of extreme left-liberal volunteer social work, with someone else expected to do all the actual work. Nothing on display here shows Firework’s having any analysis distinct from those of amorphous leftist protesters. This accidentally suggests that most issues addressed in F3 can be addressed by work-within-the-system liberals at least as effectively as they can by people who like to call themselves anarchists, attach the label “anti-capitalist” to everything, and who jump for joy whenever someone breaks some windows.
Concerns regarding expanding surveillance technologies and struggles of people who are so subjugated and dispossessed as to have no capacity for leverage against this social order fall within the parameters of a civil liberties-oriented left-liberalism. It can convincingly be argued that many excesses of the system are simply that, excesses of the system, that there is nothing inherent to capitalist social relations about them, and that these wrongs can probably be remedied using the legitimate political mechanisms of the bourgeois democratic order. If this is the case these fields of activity should be ceded to work-within-the-system liberals.
Not everything liberal activist types do is bad. And there is nothing on display in F3 offering a clear intelligible “anti-capitalist” alternative to what work within the system liberals might come up with regarding struggles of prisoners and the homeless. If the objective is to immediately alleviate unnecessary human suffering, and this is a wholly admirable goal, then it should be ceded to people who are likely to produce results. The anarchist scene has no track record on these terms. If your goal is society-wide subversion it’s difficult to see any possible circumstances where struggles of prisoners and homeless people can breach the firewall isolating prisoners and homeless people from society as a whole and engender a larger society-wide movement of revolt. If what you want is social work, you should go to college, get an M.S.W., and pursue a career as a social worker. A cold-blooded, intelligent, real world opposition to the
world of wage labor implies a completely different focus engaging with a radically different section of the population.
Capitalism is about wage labor. Wage labor is what distinguishes the capitalist mode of production from the ways that wealth was produced and allocated in earlier forms of class society. For an ostensible oppositional phenomenon to be “anti-capitalist” it has to be against wage labor -- and that means it has to be all about wage laborers and centrally focused on the wage slave class. An anti-wage labor/anti-market trajectory has to be integral to both the ideas and the actions; it can’t be stapled on as an afterthought. As a fight for the emergence of a mass political reality that does not exist at present it is irreconcilably antagonistic to bogus expressions of opposition to the current state of things; it is against electoral politics and labor unions; it is against the left, the center, and the right; it means violent antagonism to any and all forms of racial, ethnic or nationalist politics, it is against all democratic, populist and
statist, small scale and large scale efforts to find anything other than a mass revolutionary solution to the problems generated by commodity relations -- nobody gets a free pass for having good intentions, engaging in petty vandalism, or for looking cool in a black leather jacket. It has to have some potential to spread and become general, even if this is just a potential for generalization by offering a good combative example. It can’t be “anti-capitalist” empty verbiage grafted onto every aspect of what’s harmful and oppressive about contemporary life.
Subversion has to be a mainstream phenomenon. Anti-capitalist class struggle doesn’t only mean workplace disputes -- although class conflict in the workplace is of paramount importance, especially among crucial sectors like metropolitan transit system employees. But it is absolutely not about every last phenomenon that makes people oppressed, repressed, or depressed, no matter how legitimate these other concerns and causes may be. An authentic anti-capitalist plan of action focuses on wage slaves and enlisted people in the armed forces to the rigorous exclusion of all else. This is not because toil is ennobling, or because after the revolution we will all turn into blue-uniformed worker bees, or because we like the army, or because people excluded from wage labor are somehow lesser beings, but because large numbers of certain specific people are in a potentially powerful position against market society that prisoners and the homeless as such
will never be in. Big city transit system operators in particular are in an even more potentially powerful position than other wage earners.
F3’s authors present themselves as ferocious anarchist protesters ready to throw down against The Man but in reality they are both fickle and gullible. F3 is an expression of a disengaged, low energy scene made up of people who cannot take initiative in response to repeated opportunities for real world action that contemporary society offers them. This is most apparent in regard to the gentrification of San Francisco. I’ve noted the clear lack of engagement on display in two articles published in Fireworks about the gentrification of one of San Francisco’s last predominantly working class neighborhoods, the Mission District. Another example tells more. The scenester space Station 40 is identified as a “radical space” in a blurb on the back of Fireworks Issue 3, and as an “anti-capitalist social center” on Station 40’s own web page. Located on 16th Street at Mission, Station 40 is at the virtual ground zero of the current phase
of tech sector-fueled Mission gentrification. Over a multiple year period S40 has hosted events where this space has been packed to the rafters with people grazing on riot porn from Athens, and also one where more than a hundred career college students and compulsive protesters sat in reverent half-lotus positions at the feet of a gaseous pedant from the Invisible Committee, but the people at S40 were unwilling, over a solid two year period of my repeatedly requesting this several years ago, to either host or themselves organize even a single public meeting about the galloping embourgeosification of the Mission.
In an anti-gentrification struggle timing is everything and trying to get something rolling at a much earlier stage in the ruin of the Mission was going to be crucial. The Station 40 “crew” were not only unwilling to host a meeting about Mission gentrification, they were unwilling to say why and too dishonest or cowardly to decisively say that they would not host or organize an anti-gentrification meeting that would be open to people in the neighborhood at large. Finally the terminally earnest college professor Cindy Milstein, apparently the token adult of the space, primly informed me that Station 40 was not going to hold any public meeting about gentrification. This is the key point. The people at Station 40 would not hold an event appealing to something beyond the subcultural consumption needs of scenesters. Reflecting the anarchist subculture’s relationship to the larger world around it, Station 40 has a passively parasitic
relationship to the proletarian neighborhood where they are physically situated. Station 40’s role is to offer a safe space for subcultural bonding rituals and the ongoing indulgence of an insurrectionary fantasy life. This is consistent with anarchism in the US being a subcultural identity phenomenon to the exclusion of all else. The US anarchist subculture functions the way other subcultures spawned by consumer society function. The anarchist scene resembles subcultures that form among ardent fans of Star Trek, Harry Potter, the Grateful Dead, and collectors of Star Wars toys. Contemporary US anarchism is not primarily engaged with and against the larger society around us -- it is an attempt to escape from this society on a fantasy role-playing basis. It is not a real world social struggle phenomenon.
The larger scene generating Fireworks has staged two or three desultory protest events in SF’s Mission over the last two years, mostly geared to allow scenesters to hang out with one another, none of them involving any credible outreach to neighborhood working people. Their efforts are no substitute for collective action that can actually mean something to mainstream working class adults, efforts that working class adults will get involved with and make their own. They choose to act as all other Bay Area leftist protesters always do and thus their efforts are appropriately and assiduously ignored by a high ninety percent of individuals of all social classes.
When Bay Area anarchist scenesters venture outside of the comfort and safety of the anarchist scene they immediately shed whatever distinct identity they previously claimed as anarchists and become either perky democrats or Che Guevara T-shirt leftists. The spiky window-breakers go for the T-shirt option. Far from being so uncompromising that they unnecessarily alienate others, these nominal anarchists are without exception the most pliant and supine of leftists. Their intellectual laziness, gross historical ignorance and penchant for taking too much of their interpretation of reality from the one hundred percent capitalist hip-hop industry lets them sleepwalk into accepting fundamental suppositions fed to them by the Marxist-Leninist counter-revolution of the 20th century, minus the intense commitment and authentic conviction found among the cadre of M-L groups. In F3 this is seen in characteristic anti-authoritarian groveling before the myth of
the Black Panther Party.
You will be hard-pressed to find a more disastrous and dead-end example of what an opposition to this social order entails than the Black Panther Party. The Black Panther’s main enduring impact in Oakland, the city where they began and effectively had their biggest social base, was to help get a pro-business elite conservative Republican named Lionel Wilson elected as the city’s first black mayor. Their “armed self-defense” tactic resulted in an upwards of 40 to 1 negative kill ratio against the police. The Black Panther Party was riddled with police agents, predators and opportunists and its history is replete with numerous beatings and murders inflicted on its members and supporters by the party’s leaders or by goons under their orders. This included the torture and murder of Betty Van Patter, an accountant for the BPP who discovered financial irregularities consistent with the Black Panther Party being at
that point a racket run by criminals. “Supreme Servant of the People” Huey P. Newton lived large in a rooftop penthouse above Lake Merritt on party funds and did more personal damage to low-income African Americans in Oakland than he ever did to the “white power structure,” specifically in his murder of a teenage street prostitute and the skull fracture Newton inflicted on an elderly tailor while pistol-whipping him. Both of these people had their lives changed much for the worse by the Supreme Servant of the People for the crime of calling Newton “baby,” a capital offense in the case of the young woman. There was nothing communist in the Black Panthers social objectives and nothing anarchist in its internal power relations.
Aside from their occasional sartorial flare the Black Panthers offer no examples of a pattern of action worth reproducing or a set of insights unique to them and useful today. A dispassionate study of movements for social change in the US in the post-World War Two period shows that the unglamorous and strictly non-violent civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties spearheaded most of the profound gains, and the attitude of people like Dr. King toward electoral politics was no worse than the ones actively pursued by the Panthers. The Black Panthers can’t accurately be described as Stalinist or Maoist, not because they lacked an affinity for history’s most prolific mass murderers Stalin and Mao, but because the Black Panther Party wasn’t politically consistent or coherent. Their political incoherence doesn’t exactly redeem them. The BPP aspired to be a left-wing totalitarian 20th century political phenomenon resembling a
Marxist-Leninist formation in the Third World but they didn’t have the organizational skills, internal ideological cohesion and favorable real-world circumstances for pulling this off. The criminal-minded lumpens who formed a significant social base for the Black Panther Party tend to have a hyper-individualistic ethos akin to that of unsuccessful small businesspeople and this undercut the possibility of a more collective-oriented Stalinist or Maoist effort. Achingly naïve anarcho-leftists like the people who produce Fireworks are inordinately impressed by the Panther’s free breakfast program for children. If they think that’s something they should see the wonders worked by my EBT card. Their clueless awe regarding the BPP free breakfast program shows that this fraction of the Bay Area’s anarchist subculture uncritically applauds anything that looks spiky and smells like volunteer social work, in this case vicariously grooving on the
Panthers as a much better-looking, more romantically appealing, well-dressed and Ray-Ban sporting version of Food Not Bombs.
AN ALTERNATIVE: THE WILL TO INTERVENE
An effort akin to Fireworks can play an energetic role in establishing a public presence for perspectives distinct from the forty-year long template of failure, irrelevance and worse that is the protest ghetto left in America -- with a very different, internally consistent, transparently clear politics, asserted among a different audience, and with a very different understanding on the part of its authors of the role they intend to play in this.
To start with, authentic revolutionary extremist politics involves swimming against the stream. It isn’t about being nice to everybody. It means not being afraid of stepping on a few toes. In a place as chock-a-block with repugnant political creepy-crawlies as the San Francisco Bay Area it means being blasé about stepping on many toes. A sustained collective effort is now needed for something more ambitious than applauding all the stuff that intellectually lazy and physically sluggish Bay Area protesters and scenesters already passively believe in.
Profound accelerating structural social inequality is creating opportunities for new forms of social struggle. Workplace actions by big city transit system employees hold great promise. Public transit systems like Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) San Francisco’s MUNI and the East Bay’s AC Transit bring together more members of the modern slave class that any other enterprise and from every possible combination of what makes up the contemporary proletariat; urban and suburban, employed and unemployed, badly paid and somewhat less badly paid, born in the US or not. Corporate America, management and capital’s agents the unions are ceaselessly attempting to erode transit worker’s compensation levels and working conditions. But transit employees are in a potentially formidable position against management to a degree that other members of today’s atomized, spatially dispersed and mystified wage earning class aren’t. In years to come,
transit system employees can go for on-the-job actions outside of and against union control that keep transit systems operating while refusing to collect fares from riders, a series of “spare the fare days.” This can be a direct practical assertion of working class power building widespread face-to-face solidarity outside of narrow job categories. It can bring about a brief but real short circuit of market relations in one small necessary aspect of contemporary life. The mundane and humble character of this may be its most promising aspect.
As I wrote elsewhere examining the failure of an attempted transit system fare strike on San Francisco’s MUNI system in 2005:
“…When transit system operators go on a wildcat of this sort, and even if the event only lasts for one day, the event could become something akin to a non-violent city-wide workers' revolt. The economy would be shut down, or slowed and stalled to an overwhelming degree. Everything else in town would be occurring around the event for the life of the festivities. It would set a precedent for similar actions elsewhere, and not just related to mass transit systems. This is hard to imagine now, but as social conditions become more extreme, and the decline of the US is accompanied by unprecedented major shock experiences we may see a number of surprising events take place…”
An awareness of transit system employee’s latent power and the need for self-organization outside of and against capital’s union apparatus can be encouraged by outside agitation. Agitation along these lines took place among BART and MUNI employees and to a lesser degree among riders from 1991 to 1995, in the context of an abortive BART strike in 1997, and later in the initiation of what decomposed into a typical leftist culture of failure event responding to austerity measures on SF’s MUNI transit system in 2005. These efforts weren’t sufficient. They were scattershot. They have to take place linked to similar efforts in other cities, as conflicts between employees and management heat up, over a course of many years. And actions like these must spread among combative wage earners into other areas of social life.
The early 1990’s transit agit-prop efforts are examined here:
The people who do Fireworks posted a version of this article on their web site, dated August 13, 2013. If any of them had the inclination, energy and nerve they could have used the doc and its accompanying materials as a point of departure for similar agitation in the lead-up to and aftermath of the brief San Francisco Bay Area BART strike of July 2013. This didn’t happen. And in typical slapdash scenester style they choose to post a version of the doc that does not include the leaflets, posters, stickers and press clippings that are necessary for the main text to be intelligible. The leaflets in particular serve as a style model for how to communicate communist extremist perspectives to mainstream US working people. They are necessary for this doc to be used as intended, as a template for direct action in the real world.
A credible subversive effort requires political cohesion that will endure under stress, a collective shared vision in a long-term effort with a transparently clear perspective. Anyone can grasp this; we are not talking about quadratic equations. Sustained real world action must be combined with collective reading and discussion.
This is a short list of the best points of departure for our times:
The post-1964 political documents from The Situationist International Anthology, edited by Ken Knabb. The chapter of Society of the Spectacle titled, “The Proletariat as Subject and Representation.” Eclipse and Reemergence of the Communist Movement by Gilles Dauve and Francois Martin, reading this last text in such a way as to discard Dauve’s “anti-politics” stuff. When Insurrections Die, by Gilles Dauve. And Unions Against Revolution, by Grandizo Munis.
Taken together these works offer a long-range historical tool kit. They emerge from the best moments of the modern revolutionary movement, the real movement to abolish existing conditions. They are antithetical to the struggles of leftist and nationalist politicians for a change of government. After the Situationists, Dauve, and Munis, Paul Mattick’s essays in Anti-Bolshevik Communism and Arshinov’s History of the Makhnovist Movement are excellent and can be followed by the introduction to and essays in Pannekoek and Gorter’s Marxism, edited by D.A. Smart. These works are not suggested as an ultra-left version of Mosaic law but as materials to build intellectual muscle. The collective process of tangling with these works may even be more useful than the texts themselves. And any collective reading effort has to go hand in glove with action to avoid decomposing into passive intellectual entertainment.
Asserting uncompromising perspectives in the context of everyday life social struggles shaves away illusions. It separates the inventive, energetic individuals who have profound convictions and a capacity to persevere from the duds and lightweights who are on a slumming sabbatical from their parent’s social class and who always age out of their pose. 21st century minority communist action can’t guarantee anything, but it beats standing around with your hands in your pockets chatting with indolent friends at an endless series of easily ignored Bay Area leftist demos and blaming The Man for all your woes.
Kevin KeatingTags: kkfireworkssubculturesocietyCategory: Analysis
Jorge and Alexa Narvaez became famous a few years back when their covers of great American songs started getting millions of views on YouTube. This song was seen by 27 million people alone. Now Alexa's little sister has joined in the fun, and they are covering it again. For a pretty tragic reason.
What makes the men in this short documentary do what they do might help inspire you as well.
There's a reason some cities are cutting back on funding for elections and polling places and eliminating early and absentee voting. It has a lot to do with keeping certain sections of the population from exercising their right to vote.
This video was from the 2012 election, but it gives you a good idea of what happened in a lot of metropolitan areas. And the biggest clue why they're making it all worse for the next voting day? What the guy says at 2:30.
Yes, we all know that is texting while driving is bad. So another reminder won't hurt.
The original video was made by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to explain why they give tickets: to save lives. Check out more of their videos on their YouTube page.
The oil industry and its well-compensated apologists in Congress like to complain that the Obama administration is stalling oil production on public lands. The problem with that argument: it’s demonstrably false.
While plenty of environmental advocates may wish that President Obama was actively working to keep the fossil fuel reserves underground, the data tells a much different story.
In fact, according to new data released by the Department of the Interior, the amount of crude oil produced on onshore federal lands in 2013 was the highest it has been in over a decade.
This hasn’t stopped the oil industry from “distorting and cherry-picking statistics,” in the words of the Center for Western Priorities, to argue for even fewer regulations and more lax permitting processes.
A Tuesday post on the The Daily Caller is representative of the oil industry's spin, and provides a tutorial in cherry-picking data.
The total number of oil and gas drilling leases issued in 2013 reached a nearly three-decade lows, according to the Bureau of Land Management. The bureau says it issued 1,468 drilling leases last year, totaling 1.17 million acres of federal land — the lowest figures since 1988, which is the oldest year for which the BLM has data.
Overall, U.S. oil production has boomed in recent years, but production on federal lands has been falling. The Congressional Research Service reports that oil production on federal lands fell from 1,731,500 barrels per day in 2009 to 1,627,400 barrels per day in 2012, and the total shareof crude oil produced on federal lands fell to 26 percent in 2012 from 33 percent in 2009.
Let’s unpack this a bit.
First of all, the post opens by referencing the new BLM data, which only accounts for the federal onshore leasing program. To bolster the faulty argument that fewer leases is resulting in decreased production, the post then cites a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report from last year, which includes all production on federal lands – onshore and, importantly, offshore.
When you actually dig into that year-old CRS report, you see that production on federal onshore lands has increased every year since President Bush left office.
All of the decreases in overall production on federal lands have occurred offshore, where production has flagged from a high in 2010. That year, you may remember, there was a pretty massive explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which reasonably brought about a more tempered approach — and a temporary moratorium — to deep water offshore drilling.
The new data from Interior and EIA analysis shows that offshore production, too, it poised to again pick up steam. As E&E News reports:
Oil production was level in the Gulf of Mexico, dropping slightly from 476 million barrels to 472 million barrels in 2013, according to the federal data.
And while oil production in the Gulf of Mexico was level last year – down about 23 percent from a peak in 2010 – the region appears to have halted the rapid drop in production that followed the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which triggered a five-month drilling moratorium and a major overhaul of safety regulations.
Gulf production averaged 1.25 million barrels a day in 2013, but it is expected to grow by 140,000 barrels a day in 2014 and an additional 210,000 barrels a day the following year, EIA said.
As for the oft-repeated claim that that faster permitting and more leases will directly boost oil production? That same CRS report debunks that one too.
There is however, continued interest among some in Congress to open more federal lands for oil and gas development (e.g., the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and areas offshore) and increase the speed of the permitting process. But having more lands accessible may not translate into higher levels of production on federal lands, as industry seeks out the most promising prospects and highest returns.
This is an important point, and one that speaks to another stat cited in the Daily Caller post — that “the total share of crude oil produced on federal lands fell to 26 percent in 2012 from 33 percent in 2009.”
Looking at the percentages of production coming from public versus private lands is just plain misleading.
As the CRS report and the new data from Interior both make clear, overall production has increased substantially and consistently under the Obama administration. The shift in the percentage from public lands is mostly a reflection of the industry’s massive shift to shale oil operations, predominantly in the Bakken region, which don’t happen to be on public lands.
In fact, according to a Center for Western Priorities report,
The large majority of shale oil plays exist under nonfederal lands. Mapping of shale resources reveals that 93 percent of all onshore shale oil and mixed oil and gas plays are found under nonfederal lands. Even in the Rocky Mountain West, where more federal land is located, 89 percent of the shale oil and mixed oil and gas plays are under nonfederal lands.
The CWP report makes a strong case that “the lack of shale oil deposits under public lands and the market-driven movement away from natural gas and towards oil explains recent drilling trends on public lands.”
In other words, oil and gas companies aren’t drilling as much on public lands because there isn’t nearly as much shale oil under public lands.
In fact, that same CRS report that conservative media and the oil industry love to cite says reveals that applications for permits to drill (APDs) have actually dropped consistently from 2006 through 2011 (the last year for which they had data).
And though it might come as a surprise to the oil industry flacks, the Obama administration has actually processed more applications than it received every year, a feat only achieved once in the last three years of the Bush administration.Tags: oilshale oilcenter for western prioritiesoil leasesDrillingPublic LandsBLM
After slogging through their 2,000-word anti-Google ransom note, I did not expect to engage in a remotely reasonable discussion with the Counterforce. Not when the anti-capitalist protestors distributed fliers to Kevin Rose's neighbors in San Francisco demanding that Google pay them $3 billion—and especially not when the group "stalked" Google X engineer Anthony Levandowski.
But the Counterforce caught me by surprise during the Q&A, conducted via email, below.
Yesterday after writing about the unhinged protest against Digg founder Rose, who now works as a general partner at Google Ventures, I got an email from someone using the handle Nicolas Flamel. That's the same pseudonym as the author of Wordpress site kevinroseisaterribleperson. To show that they represented the Counterforce, they added a smiley-face to the Wordpress blog for a brief, agreed upon period of time. To verify that the Wordpress site is affiliated with the group, they sent me a still image "from the unreleased video of our interaction with Kevin Rose."
That's not airtight proof that the person or persons I communicated with represent the Counterforce, which claims to have members who work for Google, or even that their responses were true. However, the fact they suggested meeting in person was a mark in the "Possibly maybe legit" column.
This isn't the first time the Counterforce, which also took credit for anti-Amazon protests in Seattle, has spoken to the press. NextShark just published a Q&A yesterday. According to the emails in my inbox the NextShark interview "was one perspective from a Counterforce member and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the entire group." The answers below, my responded insisted, were drafted by "about half the present group," adding, "A sewage leak, the beach, work and other preoccupations prevented more collaboration."
Like those who claim to speak for Anonymous, perspectives can be contradictory, hard to verify, and just as petty as the rest of us.
Logical might be too strong a word for anyone who thinks they can get Google to part with $3 billion, much less overthrow capitalism. The many-tentacled monopoly recently managed to wriggle out of billions in potential anti-trust fines in Europe as well as a class action lawsuit for data mining students' emails. But after reading reports of the protest, the bar was very low. They definitely had more patience for my pedantic line of questioning than some of the technocrats they oppose, so I'm biased.
Besides, if Silicon Valley can proselytize about cloud country and dividing California into six pieces, why can't their political enemies engage in similar flights of fancy about the world as it currently exists?
Given rising tensions, it was also a relief to hear that despite the spectacle of threatening to snip-snip Rose's "ballz," the Counterforce purports to be non-violent when it comes to human or animal life. Then again, there's a strong possibility that I'll come away with a different conclusion after they release the video of their interaction with Rose. Stay safe, everyone!
How many people are part of the Counterforce?
It is hard to accurately determine this. Membership in the Counterforce is not quantifiable. The group is composed of everyone who takes a conscious stand against the hyper-gentrification of their neighborhoods, whether that be refusing service, yelling at gentrifiers on the street, painting slogans, or holding banners outside residences. The Counterforce has no internal knowledge of its own membership.
You said that the group includes some people that work for Google. What is their role at the company? Why continue to work for Google considering your objections? Can you offer any proof that you have members who work at Google?
A few of our members work for Google, although we cannot describe their positions for security reasons. The wages they receive from their employer go into many anti-capitalist projects. However, our comrades who work at Google cannot stand the culture within its walls and that is why they have lent us their services. We cannot expose their identities or concretely prove to you that they are there, but think about the leaked documents, fortuitous circumstances, and uncanny occurrences that have appeared during this entire tech-backlash
Alternatively, they brought this all upon themselves through their infatuation with social-media and their reliance on exploited workers to get through their daily lives.
Hopefully this makes some sense.
How would you respond to skepticism over whether The Counterforce is actually made up of service workers, as you claim, and is distracting from genuine community activism?
Some of us are most definitely service workers who serve the new ruling tech-class. Again, we cannot concretely prove this to you, but service workers have been marginalized by society, forgotten by the old trade-unions, and exploited by the rich, and thus far their plight in the current context has gone largely unreported.
As far as detracting from genuine community activism, we would reply that we are genuine community organizers and should be taken seriously. No other community organizers have condemned our actions, so we believe that there is no conflict.
Do you honestly believe that Google will give you $3 billion? If not, why advocate for that over something more realistic that might improve the lives of people struggling to get by or find/keep housing?
Yes. The loss of 3 billion would not destroy Google. If that money were given to us, we would absolutely be able to accomplish the limited objectives of creating areas free from capitalism in the Bay Area and Northern California. We do not expect everything to go perfectly, but at the very least we could create sizable communities within each Bay Area city that are free from capitalist relationships and that would eventually blossom into a movement that could not be stopped.
Why did you chose Kevin Rose and Anthony Levandowski as targets? Neither is a Google executive.
Both were targeted for the objective functions they perform within Google, the objections to which we have described in our communiques. Unlike Google executives, these two men are perhaps slightly more inclined to speak to us. The executives never would, isolated as they are from reality and normal human behavior.
How long have most members of the Counterforce lived in the Bay Area?
Many have lived here our whole lives, some for a over decade, others for only a few years, a few have just arrived, some are just returning. In this respect, we are like any other group of people.
Unilaterally driving out everyone employed by a tech company would have a negative impact on the local economy. Why advocate for that?
We are not especially concerned about the positive health of the capitalist economy, given that it is our enemy.
Why don't you see a distinction between tech workers? These corporations are stratified. They do not behave uniformly. They don't all have access to the same wealth and opportunity. They do not all abuse that privilege.
Google has already stratified itself with its different castes of employees: white badges, green badges, red badges, and yellow badges. Thus far, our efforts have been aimed at the white and green badges. White badge employees are the ones gentrifying our neighborhoods and riding the buses to and from Silicon Valley. If these employees stop fulfilling their objective roles in gentrification (paying exorbitant rents, complaining about neighbors, driving up demand for luxury apartments, etc.), they will find that they are no longer subject to such intense criticism and scorn from all sectors.
What do you hope to achieve as a group?
If it is not clear, we want the end of capitalism and the creation of a free world.
Why not protest government officials or policy makers, as opposed to tech corporations?
Been there, done that. When the tech corporations are challenged, they point the finger at city hall and the federal government. When city hall is challenged, they point the finger at the tech corporations and the state government. It all goes round and round, they are all equally complicit, and they should all be equally challenged.
You told NextShark: "Anarchists are the only group with the skill set necessary to solve" the problem of capitalism. Can you point to a prior example where this skill set has provided a viable alternative to capitalism?
Yes. For example: [here, here, and here] and in regards to the current moment: [here].
Is the Counterforce non-violent?
Any group claiming to be the Counterforce is against the harming or taking of human or animal life.Tags: counterforceGoogleGoogle BusattackCategory: Opinion
A note before we start: I do not know Sergey Turzhanskiy, herein referred to as “Kiki,” which is how a lot of people know them. Because I have never met this person, and acknowledging this person will be in an extremely vulnerable position, I want to say that I am not addressing Kiki’s conviction as part of a political organization, nor am I advocating for Kiki. I have had no contact with Kiki, nor would I advocate for Kiki unless I could be sure that doing so would not violate the terms of the sentencing agreement as laid out by Kiki, Kiki’s lawyers, and the federal government.
I would like to close by saying that making me think to type this preface, essentially a disclaimer, is disgusting. I am against anyone being locked in a cage, and in hopes of foregoing further punishment on the behalf of someone I wish to write about, I will recognize the byzantine nature of the system which locks people in cages. So, as an anarchist discussing someone who has agreed not to have contact with anarchists, I do not wish this to be construed as organized advocacy, although I recognize this determination is out of my hands. This was not initiated by Kiki, Kiki’s family, friends, or supporters.
And, if you are a federal official, and have read this far, please kill yourself.
On March 31, a Portland anarchist, Kiki, who was accused of an attempted act of property destruction, was sentenced to two and a half years of federal prison. Kiki was arrested for throwing a crude Molotov cocktail made from a beer bottle at a parked and unoccupied police cruiser at the Northeast Precinct in the early morning of November 5, 2012. When the bottle failed to break, Kiki attempted to smash it on the cop car one more time. This time the bottle broke and started a small fire, which did minimal damage. Apparently the attack came in the middle of a shift change, and nearby police quickly arrested Kiki. There were initial allegations that Kiki was beaten by police, although to what degree remains unclear.
Kiki was originally charged with multiple felonies, including attempted arson and possession of a destructive device, among others. The sum total of Kiki’s bail stood at $1 million, until charges were moved to federal court, and Kiki’s lawyer was able to argue for conditional release in January 2013. Part of the agreement which got Kiki released was that Kiki was to have no contact with anarchists, most notably a group federal prosecutor Stephen Peifer referred to as “Resist the NW Grand Jury,” which isn’t even a group, but the title of a Facebook page devoted to disseminating information regarding resistance to a grand jury in Seattle which was investigating property destruction during riots in that city on May 1, 2012.
Peifer also pointed to the fact that Kiki’s case had been written about on the blogs of prisoner advocacy and legal repression support groups Portland Anarchist Black Cross and Denver Anarchist Black Cross as indicative of Kiki’s “serious involvement with the anarchist activity, which is a threat to the community.”
On the night Kiki appeared in court for sentencing, Kiki was contrite, either in the face of the looming threat of years of imprisonment, or in genuine remorse for their actions (this is uncertain and it would be unfair to speculate). Judge Marco Hernandez gave Kiki two and a half years, three years of supervised release, and continued to forbid contact with anarchists. Kiki was convicted of possession of an unregistered destructive device, but, as per the agreement worked out with Kiki’s lawyers and the government, avoided the attempted arson charge, avoiding a minimum sentence of 5 years, and a maximum of 20. Apart from the sadness of a comrade going to jail, or the relative happiness that they avoided serious time, the case is reflective of some troubling dynamics at play when anarchists are in the legal system.
First, the distinction of “anarchist” is no doubt treated as suspect by the state, naturally, because anarchists advocate for the overthrow or abolition of the state itself and work in many ways towards that goal. However, the implication the state continues to repeat is that being an anarchist, by itself, is criminal, or dangerous, and it informs the way anarchists are treated when they are charged with a crime.
When anarchists go to court, what would normally be construed as protected speech (political affiliation, disseminating information, and association), is then used as a club to hold over the accused during the legal process, and some speech activities, are considered detrimental to one’s case, if not criminal in and of themselves. Former animal rights prisoners the SHAC 7 and former environmental saboteur Daniel McGowan found this out the hard way. The SHAC 7 were essentially convicted as “leaders” of a decentralized protest campaign using RICO-esque interpretations of their role in maintaining a website which chronicled a campaign to shut down a notorious vivisection lab, and McGowan was chided by Judge Ann Aiken at his 2007 sentencing for the content of his support website before slapping him with a terrorism enhancement sentence.
While anyone honest should be dubious that the government should protect speech it vaguely feels is criminal, and anarchists do not, as a rule, see legitimacy in legally-enshrined “rights” as essentially protective of freedom, increasingly the state uses the considerable threats they can exercise through the legal process to make us silence ourselves, or rethink tactics that aren’t illegal, but evidence of which can be used by authorities to determine remorse on behalf of the accused and impose sentences. The idea is that the government would prefer to strip away any political context in which a criminal act is carried out, and if you’re the accused, so a strategy of wholly disavowing the act and the politics behind it, or distancing yourself from them, is sometimes used out of genuine remorse, or to essentially plead for leniency in sentencing. This happens in every almost every criminal case, political or not. It is a theatrical process, a genuflection toward the vested power of the government, and while ideally one would want to shout their condemnation of the legal system and claim responsibility for and explain an act that was accompanied with considerable risk, when decades of your life hang in the balance, it’s hard to push for maximum intransigence when it remains very true that you face your sentence and serve your time alone, no matter what support you have on the outside.
Early after the arrest, Kiki’s attorney got a bail crowdfunding website taken down, as well as a “Free Sergey” blog chronicling Kiki’s case. This was a shrewd move, and due to Kiki’s lack of a criminal record, it was easier to demonstrate contrition in material ways that would satisfy a judge; ultimately, it worked to secure Kiki’s release prior to trial and a lesser sentence. By simple math, two and a half years is less than 20. While both have power, federal courts, when compared to county courts, have more; nearly 95% of federal cases end in a plea deal because enormous disparities between potential sentences and the ones offered in those deals, not to mention enormous costs associated with a legal defense, keep people from fighting charges. Those accused are mindful of this dynamic at all times. When 95% of cases don’t involve even arguing guilt or innocence, apology is sometimes the result when you don’t want a person in a position of enormous power to throw your life away.
Because this case was settled, and largely took place behind closed doors, there are still unanswered questions. There are many reasons why one would want to burn a police car, but speculation as to why this act was carried out isn’t forthcoming, and, in many cases in communities targeted by surveillance, speculation jeopardizes security. But to place things contextually, in November 2012, Portland’s anarchist community had been highly surveilled and targeted for federal repression in the form of a grand jury, which stemmed from the fact that some Portland anarchists were already under FBI surveillance (for what, it has never been said), and were suspected of traveling to Seattle to participate in May Day protests where some participants broke glass doors at a federal courthouse. The investigation related to this involved military-style raids in the summer of 2012 by heavily-armed FBI agents, the serving of subpoenas around the Pacific Northwest, and the indefinite detention of three people who refused to testify. In early October, Portland anarchist Leah-Lynne Plante had just been imprisoned for refusing to testify before the grand jury. (Plante would later testify, was released, and has not been heard from since.) A solidarity march in Southeast Portland after Plante’s imprisonment saw several bank properties on Southeast Hawthorne smashed, in one of the most combative anarchist demonstrations in Portland for years. (Some people detained after that march were later harassed by the FBI, who undoubtedly got their names from Portland police.) One month later, Kiki threw a Molotov at a cop car. It was undoubtedly a political act, but in relation to what, we may never know.
In January 2013, when Peifer argued against Kiki’s release, and said Kiki should have no contact with “Resist the NW Grand Jury,” Peifer said that the anarchists in question were attempting to “obstruct” the grand jury. It’s fairly obvious that the government connected Kiki’s action to the wider effort of resisting the heavy-handed repression in response to the rioting on May Day (which has yet resulted in no federal charges), and was seeking to implicate anarchists in general as dangerous and violent as a means to keep Kiki locked up.
Unfortunately for the authorities, being an anarchist isn’t itself illegal. But that hardly matters. Going back to the notion of “rights,” speaking to or being able to associate with others regardless of their beliefs are some that all Americans are supposed to enjoy, and that courts, ideally, are supposed to uphold. Yet anarchism, an ethic at least as generous and expansive as it is combative, is a bit of a scarlet letter in society, at large. If you’ve read one report by mainstream journalists of a protest, or squat eviction, they often reproduce verbatim police lines about possession of anarchist literature, clothing, political indicia like signs, innocuous materials (paint, hand tools), as fitting some sinister type. Most of the time it seems more lazy than malicious, but it has a cumulative effect in the public consciousness. In court, this type, this profile, is used to maximum advantage by prosecutors. It starts with the villainous tinge given to the word “anarchist,” referring to anarchist “activity” as “a threat to the community,” conceptualizing anarchists as inherently criminal, using one’s adherence to anarchist ethics or beliefs as a means to address a court’s prejudices. Identifying someone as such or playing on the popular implications of what an anarchist is or does is part of the process which helps prosecutors accomplish their jobs; slamming prison bars in someone’s face. In the prison system, being labeled as an anarchist means a lot more, by way of possible repression.
Kiki is still forbidden from having contact with anarchists. It is unclear as to what exactly that entails; whether certain people may write Kiki letters, for instance. In prison, this is a big deal, because political identification is increasingly being treated as a gang matter, and gang affiliation, which is determined by prison officials on evidence obtained by guards, in a process that would make a normal criminal trial look like a civics class lesson. Journalist Shane Bauer wrote about this process for Mother Jones, noting that possession of literature, or the content of drawings at California’s Pelican Bay prison could land a prisoner gang classification, and then solitary confinement. Mark Neiweem, an anarchist arrested on specious terrorism charges before the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago, was put into solitary last year for having what authorities said was “copious amounts of anarchist literature.” Neiweem’s tattoos, which included the anarchist symbol of a circled letter “A”, and an encircled letter “E”, symbolizing “equality” were found by prison officials to signify “class warfare, the 99%.” McGowan and SHAC 7 member Andy Stepanian were both imprisoned in Communication Management Units, high-security prisons within prisons which heavily restrict prisoners’ ability to communicate with the outside world, expressly for their political advocacy. McGowan was even briefly re-imprisoned while on parole for writing an article about the CMUs.
On the law enforcement level, the criminalization of anarchism has played out, too. In an affidavit attached to a search warrant related to electronics seized in 2012′s FBI raids, an agent noted that they had talked with the Portland police to identify “known anarchists.” In 2011, the year Seattle anarchists had regularly protested a high-profile police shooting, police raided an anarchist house party, where they beat and Tasered people, with one officer wielding a shovel. In the late-90′s Pacific Northwest, a hotbed for radical environmentalism and green anarchism, heavy-handed responses to protests and wide-scale surveillance of any and all anarchist activity was the norm. We can go back to the anti-Communist police “Red Squads”. It isn’t as if any of this is new.
In the face of the increasing power of the US legal apparatus, the drastic uptick in conviction rates, the militarization of the police, the rise of the surveillance state, and America’s out-of-control prison system, however, political repression of this kind may only get worse. When taken in total, it’s reasonable to conclude that these systems of power, in concert, cannot be reformed and therefore must be destroyed. That ethical people, or those simply trying to preserve a life for themselves, have to fight back, using varied means that will be confrontational. Many militant mass movements worldwide have adopted organizing principles and tactics favored by anarchists, so there are opportunities for anarchist participation in struggles of all sorts, aside from the ones anarchists initiate.
For this reason, it’s clear that authorities have a vested interest in making it seem like anarchists are a scary threat to the life and welfare of those around them, but every time an officer kills a houseless person, a person of color, a child in a no-knock raid, or feeds the private immigration detention system a continuous succession of bodies, the “safety” which they wish to preserve is exposed as monstrous. This perverted order is the thing anarchists are a threat to, and we counter it with ideas that promote an existence where no one has mastery over anyone else, where systems of domination are abolished, where people can live a dignified existence. We do this through advocacy and actually fighting back.
Kiki’s agreement to not associate with anarchists, whether proposed by Kiki’s legal defense or initiated by the government, sets a dangerous precedent for potential repression. How do authorities make the distinction when someone is in contact with an anarchist? What does “contact” really mean, and how far can it be stretched? Once you’re out of court you’re never out of the system; probation, parole, travel restrictions and all the security and surveillance trappings that come with being convicted follow you. Your prior convictions dictate what sort of sentence you receive in the future, as well. Being legally barred from associating with others could have enormous implications for people already in legal jeopardy. While anarchists should dismiss the power of the state as illegitimate, it is vitally important not to cede it any more power than it already has. This is not a criticism for a plea taken by someone looking down the barrel of decades in prison, just an acknowledgement of a dangerous precedent.
It’s heartbreaking when someone you care about is locked up, harder still when you may be forbidden from speaking to them, and when the state forces displays of atonement, whether genuine or not, the effect is gut-wrenching. But this is how the state tells us not to fight, and warns us that if we do, they will break us. Whether they’re successful is another matter, entirely.Tags: portlandprisonerconsequencesCategory: Analysis
The question I hear time and time again from audiences who see my documentary film, Broadcast Blues is, "Why did you leave your lucrative career in broadcasting to become a media reform...
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After learning that predator drone operators often refer to kills as "bug splats," because bodies look so small from up above, an artist collective didn't get angry — they got creative.
Disposable bugs, huh?
Obviously the drone operators need to take a closer look.
From their site: An artist collective installed this massive portrait facing up in the heavily bombed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan, where drone attacks regularly occur. Now, when viewed by a drone camera, what an operator sees on his screen is not an anonymous dot on the landscape, but an innocent child victim’s face.
After talking with a member of the collective, this was like the icing on the cake: "The piece was left there for as long as people decided to use the fabric for roofing and other useful purposes. The art was always meant to be utilized and not discarded after it was photographed."
This project is a collaboration of artists who made use of the French artist JR’s Inside Out movement. Reprieve/Foundation for Fundamental Rights helped launch the effort and also approved the unnamed girl in the image. True story about her: Her family was killed by drones, and she was wounded. Show support to this initiative by using #notabugsplat.
The showdown at the Bundy Ranch in Clark County, Nevada just took a turn for the worse as militia from around the country mobilized and have started making their way into Nevada.
Campus Discontent: Washington University Students Sit-In Against Peabody, Harvard Faculty Call for Divestment
It's a busy week in the campus fossil fuel divestment movement.
A “sit in” by students at the Washington University of St. Louis enters its third day today. The protestors have camped out underneath their campus's Brookings Archway since Tuesday, demanding that the school cut ties with Peabody Energy — the world's largest private coal company — and its CEO Greg Boyce.
Boyce was named to WU's Board of Trustees in 2009. One year earlier, Peabody gave the university millions of dollars to help create the Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization. (Along with Arch Coal, who also kicked in, the investment was roughly $5 million.)
According to Caroline Burney, a senior at Washington University, the sit-in only became necessary after many other attempts for dialogue with the school's administration were exhausted. Burney writes:
Peabody Energy CEO Greg Boyce also holds one more distinction: member of the Washington University Board of Trustees. Since Boyce was placed on the board in 2009, students have been actively organizing against Peabody Energy’s presence on campus. We have demanded that Boyce be removed from the Board of Trustees and that the University change the name of the “Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization,” a research entity to which Peabody and Arch Coal donated $5,000,000. We have met with the Chancellor – multiple times. We have dropped banners at coal events, peacefully disrupted speeches by Greg Boyce on campus, marched through campus and taken our demands to Peabody’s headquarters. We have protested with residents from Black Mesa, collected signatures for the Take Back St. Louis ballot initiative and rallied with the United Mine Workers in their fight against Peabody.
But, five years later, Boyce is still on the board, the name of the Clean Coal Consortium remains unchanged, and Chancellor Wrighton continues to stand behind Peabody Energy. Indeed, just this week he emailed us saying, “your opinion that peabody energy behaves in an ‘irresponsible and unjust manner’ is not one that I share.” The Administration has successfully used a “deny by delay” process by holding town hall meetings and developing task forces around renewable energy and energy efficiency while ignoring the role that coal plays on the campus.
In a powerful editorial for Student Life, the independent newspaper of Washington University of St. Louis, staff writer Aaron Hall echoes the students' frustrations, and lays out the stakes of the action:
So what can the divestment movement do to cut Wash. U’s affiliation with this robber baron? The answer is that it has done as much as it can so far. It has the public’s attention and has made clear actions to open dialogue with the administration. Unfortunately, the board of trustees keeps Wash. U.’s financials well-hidden from the eyes of its students. So the divestment movement’s first goal is to increase financial transparency so we can see to what extent Peabody funds our school. Secondly, it requests that Boyce be removed from the board of trustees, primarily for the blatantly unethical worker treatment that occurred under his leadership. What does it take for the administration to address this civil and reasonable request? If a sit-in isn’t enough, then I don’t know what is.
Here's video of the sit-in by Student Life, the student newspaper of Washington University of St. Louis.
Meanwhile, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, student and alumni advocates for divestment at Harvard University have been joined by a powerful faction: their teachers. On Thursday morning, nearly 100 faculty members published an open letter to President Drew Faust and the University's Fellows, expressing frustration with the president's dismissive statements on divestment, and demanding that the University “divest, as soon as possible, its holdings in fossil fuel corporations.”
Divestment is an act of ethical responsibility, a protest against current practices that cannot be altered as quickly or effectively by other means. The University either invests in fossil fuel corporations, or it divests. If the Corporation regards divestment as “political,” then its continued investment is a similarly political act, one that finances present corporate activities and calculates profit from them.
You can read the letter in its entirety here.Tags: Harvardharvard universitywashington university of st louisdivestmentsit inPeabody Energypeabody coal
Keynote address delivered at the 2000 Houston Youth Environmental Leadership Conference, 1/26/00 Yesterday a teenager sent me an email letter in which he said, "I feel cheated that it's all UP...
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President Barack Obama’s latest budget proposal calls for $1.1 billion to be spent on gun control. Part of the plan calls for a ban on high-capacity magazines and the reinstatement of an even strounger assault weapons ban.
In recent years, Canadians have heard a lot about those extremist American conservation foundations. They’ve been called radicals, money-launderers and even compared to Al Qaeda in Canada’s Senate.
More recently, an oil-related group, British Columbians for Prosperity (which bears remarkable similarity to the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity), alleges that these foundations are carrying out a really complicated American conspiracy to, er, hurt Canada by, um, not letting any of its oil go to foreign markets.
So I looked into some of these allegations and discovered some shocking truths about the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation that Canadians really need to know.
1. They Freaking Love Science!
Gordon Moore is a Silicon Valley legend. He helped develop the earliest semi-conductors and co-founded Intel. He’s so famous they named Moore’s Law after him and he chairs the board of trustees of Cal-Tech, one of the world’s leading science and research institutes. The Moore Foundation board of trustees includes the sitting president of Stanford University, a former president of the U.S. National Academy of Science and a member of the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
With over $5 billion in assets, Moore is among the world’s most illustrious scientific foundations, renowned for both its research and practical solutions.
2. Their $200 million donation will help create hundreds of science and technology jobs in Canada — mostly in B.C.!
The Moore Foundation is partnering with ACURA (Associated Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy), the National Research Council and U.S. institutions to build the Thirty Meter Telescope, the largest and most powerful optical telescope in history.
The Thirty Meter Telescope is estimated to generate 800 high-tech Canadian jobs. Credit: Courtesy TMT Observatory Corporation.
The telescope’s major components will be designed and fabricated right here in Port Coquitlam by Dynamic Structures using technology developed at the University of Victoria. Built at a cost of $1.2 billion, the Thirty Meter Telescope will be 12 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope will eventually be assembled in Hawaii under Canadian guidance.
The Thirty Meter Telescope is like the new Canadarm and is estimated to generate 800 high-tech Canadian jobs — most of them right here in B.C. Although the Moore Foundation has already committed $200 million, the Canadian government is dragging its heels on investment.
3. They’re spending millions on a West Coast earthquake early warning system
The Moore Foundation is funding an early earthquake alert system with Cal-Tech, the U.S. Geological Survey, UC Berkeley and the University of Washington, which could give first responders, transportation networks and citizens a precious few seconds, or even as much as a few minutes, warning. Once developed, this prototype could save lives right here in B.C.
4. They’ve helped create hundreds of sustainable jobs in the fishing and tourism industry on B.C.’s North Coast.
Moore Foundation partnered with the Government of Canada, the B.C. government and other U.S. funders to create a $120-million fund that provided startup capital for sustainable B.C. businesses in the Great Bear Rainforest region. Businesses like Prince Rupert’s Coastal Shellfish Company and Port Simpson’s Coast Tsimshian Seafood sprang from the agreement, creating hundreds of jobs. An eco-tourism venture, the Spirit Bear Lodge in Klemtu, was cited by National Geographic as a Best Trip for 2013.
Tens of millions of dollars still remain in the Great Bear Rainforest economic development fund, ready to drive tourism, business growth and employment on the North Coast.
5. They committed $300 million to protect 150 million hectares in the Amazon Rainforest.
That’s right. $300 million to bring one-third of the forest cover of the Amazon under sustainable management. ’Nuff said.
6. They’re all wet
On the environment front, the Moore Foundation is all about ocean health and marine habitat. They help develop optimal practices for necessary activities like shipping, transportation and fisheries. They’re tracking Fukushima’s radioactive dispersal across the Pacific, and help sustain healthy wild salmon ecosystems in Alaska, British Columbia and Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula — the three remaining regions where great migrations of salmon still return every year.
With enemies like this, who needs friends?
In all, Moore Foundation gifts to Canadian organizations or associated with Canadian government partnerships will total over $250 million, generate almost 2,000 Canadian jobs over the next decade (including hundreds of quality First Nation jobs) and build a legacy of sustainable and responsible resource management.
And for that, the Canadian government has pretty much called them the Taliban, because many of their beneficiary organizations independently oppose the Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline.
But it’s wholly disingenuous, if not outright deceptive, to suggest the Moore Foundation funded or influenced that opposition. Ivan Thompson, program officer for the Moore Foundation says, “The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has neither taken a position on the Northern Gateway Pipeline nor funded any organizations to oppose the project.”
How this U.S. foundation funding works
The above video shows how a collaborative project, the B.C. Marine Conservation Analysis, used its Moore Foundation grant to develop richly informative maps of the B.C. coast. The project included representatives from the federal and provincial governments, First Nations, user groups, ENGOs and academia.
Now the maps are informing MaPP, the marine planning process underway between coastal First Nations and the B.C. government. The public can view and navigate these maps online here. The Moore Foundation is providing scientific support through a grant distributed by Tides Canada. The MaPP Partners, the province and First Nations determine the grant allocation, while the stakeholder advisory committees advise on the plans and the science advisory committee advises on scientific guidelines.
So … what was the problem again?
As a nation we’ve got to get past this destructive and divisive approach to our environmental challenges. Let’s stop pointing fingers and start lending hands.
B.C. lived through the ’90s “War in the Woods” and all the kindergarten lessons we learned there still count. Good faith and relationships matter. Compromise is strength, not weakness. Friends are better than enemies.
And as for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s donation of hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs? How about a single word: Thanks.Tags: Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationBritish Columbians for ProsperityAmericans for ProsperityGordon MooreACURANational Research CouncilThirty Meter TelescopeGreat Bear Rainforest agreementwild salmonearthquake early warning systemB.C. Marine Conservation AnalaysisMaPP