OccupySandy: Grassroots Relief from Disaster Capitalism

by Max Haiven, Dissident Voice,  November 2nd, 2012

For the past two days I’ve been volunteering with grassroots relief efforts in New York City in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. While the storm could have been a lot worse, and while New York is one of the richest cities in one of the richest countries in the world, the storm has swept the veil off of the entrenched inequalities at this city’s core.

In New York, a lot of public housing projects and poor neighborhoods are located on the beaches and shores of this maritime capital, and so have been hit hard. On the eve of a pivotal election, all the politicians and media stooges are eager to show images of action and recovery. But the reality is that you can drive out to any one of a number of neighborhoods and find block upon block of low-income high-rises, full of people and utterly dark. Inside, children, the elderly and the sick suffer with no heat, no clean running water, and no electricity. Relief and support has been slow in coming from the powers that be. And two days after the New York Stock Exchange opened, tens of thousands of poor and working class folks are barely scraping by.

Yet one year after Occupy Wall Street bloomed and was quashed it is at the heart of grassroots relief efforts. Much is already being made of the magic of social media and its capacity to connect donors with needs in the wake of the storm. But there’s a hidden story here. That social media process is enabled and facilitated by dozens of Occupy-trained and tested organizers working 10-16 hour days to get the word out about what’s needed, to coordinate the gathering of materials from multiple city-wide drop points, to organize the sorting and bagging of all those materials, to cook hot meals for blacked-out neighborhoods, and to send teams of volunteers out to areas far and wide to provide food, clothing, blankets, water, toys, diapers, medicine (asthma inhalers and insulin, mostly) and whatever else is needed.

I worked in an OccupySandy-run church kitchen in Sunset Park today and yesterday, and drove around doing pick up and delivery. I talked to a lot of volunteers. Some had been involved in the Occupy encampments a year ago and Occupy organizing since, though many had just admired the movement from afar. We all marveled at the efficiency and determination of those who had cut their teeth in Occupy as they gracefully coordinated the often chaotic volunteer efforts and the rapid flow of people and materials. But we also admired these organizers’ good nature and friendliness, their patience and their adaptability, all hard-won qualities that come from organizing under fire in a non-hierarchical, mindful, and consensus-based movement that’s seen its fair share of crises. No one is “in charge,” yet things get done and needs get met. People’s skills and abilities find outlets. People are at their best, despite everything. Continue reading

Two Worlds Collide at Cancun, Mexico Climate Talks

Laura Carlsen

28 October, 2010, Foreign Policy in Focus

The debate over climate change generally transpires within the cloistered confines of expensive hotels, executive boardrooms, and diplomatic halls. As seen in the failure to arrive at binding agreements in Copenhagen, the talks are generally as sterile as the surroundings.

As world leaders discuss the threat to the planet in various venues around the world, it’s the poor who face the dire consequences. Marginalized and vulnerable populations–from small farmers in Africa to fisher folk on the banks of island nations–suffer most from the refusal of developed nations and corporations to cut back on emissions that are heating up the planet. But these same populations offer important and sustainable solutions to global warming.

The problem is that the world’s leaders are not listening. And that is not likely to change at the meeting on climate change in Cancun, Mexico that will start at the end of November and run through December 10.

Wasted Time

World leaders wasted precious years overcoming the bogus arguments of spurious scientists and purchased politicians who had a vested interest in denying that the climate was even changing. When that became impossible due to overwhelming scientific evidence, leaders have turned to a set of market-based mechanisms and technological fixes that avoid real commitments and promote the same economic model responsible for the crisis.

As a result, two worlds will collide in Cancun. The first is a world in denial where profits come before people and the planet, and the most threatening environmental crisis in history is viewed as a business opportunity. This world will be heavily represented by most developed country leaders and representatives of corporations hawking green projects as they continue to trash the environment and pursue unfettered access to ever-scarcer natural resources. Continue reading

America’s war on free food distribution

[Anything that undermines the corporate market economy, such as the alternative voluntarist Food Not Bombs, is considered by the state to be a serious threat.  Accordingly, Food Not Bombs has been the subject of FBI infiltration, entrapment and mass arrests.  This story reveals  some of the government’s thinking in what it calls the “war on terror.”–ed.]

October 9, 2010

By Stephen Lendman

Food Not Bombs (FNB) is “one of the fastest growing revolutionary movements and is gaining momentum throughout the world.” Access its story on: http://www.foodnotbombs.net

Through hundreds of autonomous chapters globally, it shares free vegetarian food to relieve hunger besides protesting against war, poverty, and social injustice. FNB isn’t a charity. Through grassroots activism, it advocates peace and liberation of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. In addition, for 30 years, it’s worked to end hunger and backs efforts against globalization, free movement restrictions, exploitation, and environmental destruction.

Co-founded in 1980 by Keith McHenry and other anti-nuclear activists in Cambridge MA, its autonomous, all volunteer groups advocate nonviolent social change. Among other activities, they recover edible, safe to eat food that would otherwise be discarded, using it to make “fresh hot vegan and vegetarian meals that are served in outside public spaces to anyone without restriction.” They also serve it at protests, other events and in disaster areas, but not free from disruptive government harassment. Continue reading

California: A Killer Explosion from Reckless, Highly Profitable Energy Corporation

NYTimes, September 10, 2010

Inquiry Sifting Cause of Blast in the Bay Area

By ADAM NAGOURNEY and MALIA WOLLAN

A San Bruno resident says he reported gas fumes for weeks

SAN BRUNO, Calif. — For weeks, residents in this community of trim suburban homes in the hills near San Francisco International Airport had reported catching the occasional whiff of natural gas in the bay breezes. Utility repair crews were regularly seen driving around the neighborhood.

And on Thursday night, just around dinner, a 30-inch natural gas pipe running three feet under ground erupted and fueled a devastating explosion and towering walls of wind-whipped fire, killing at least four people and consuming dozens of homes with a blaze that moved so quickly that residents barely had time to gather their belongings and run.

Throughout the day on Friday, firefighters struggled to put out the remnants of the blaze, search parties with dogs hunted for more bodies and residents huddled in Red Cross shelters, confronting the loss of their homes and the realization that part of their neighborhood had been reduced to a deep crater filled with water.

“I need to know if my house burned down,” Steve Hoff, 38, implored a California Highway Patrol officer at a police barrier that cordoned off the 15-acre disaster site on Friday. “I don’t know if I have a home left or not.” Continue reading

Scientist accuses BP and Obama administration of underestimating amount of oil left in the Gulf

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill persists underwater.

24 August, 2010, 
Democracy Now!

New evidence has badly shaken the Obama administration’s rosy narrative about the alleged disappearance of most of the oil that gushed into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s blown-out well. Early this month a report by government scientists declared that three-quarters of the oil had vanished, either collected or dispersed.

But numerous reports contradict the administration’s sanguine picture of the cleanup effort. We speak to Ian MacDonald, an oceanographer and expert on measuring oil spills from Florida State University. He testified at a congressional hearing last week and said the actual amount of oil removed from the Gulf is only around ten percent and predicted the spill will likely remain harmful for decades. [includes rush transcript]

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the Gulf of Mexico. New evidence has badly shaken the Obama administration’s rosy narrative about the alleged disappearance of most of the oil that gushed into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s blown-out well. Early this month a report by government scientists declared three-quarters of the oil had vanished, either collected or dispersed. But numerous reports contradict the administration’s sanguine picture of the cleanup effort.

Researchers at the University of Georgia said about three-quarters of the oil is still lurking below the surface of the Gulf and may pose a threat to the ecosystem. Separately, a study released last week by the University of South Florida scientists found oil in sediments of an underwater canyon and evidence that the oil has become toxic to critical marine organisms. On Thursday, a team of researchers confirmed the existence of a vast underwater oil plume stretching twenty-one miles from BP’s blown-out well. Christopher Reddy of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said the amount of oil in the plume is unknown. Continue reading

The Ploy to Promote Genetically Engineered Seeds and Pesticides to Poor Mexican Farmers Is Impoverishing Their Communities

[The impact the Green Revolution had on small farms in Mexico is one root cause of Mexican migration to the US.-ed]

By Jill Richardson, AlterNet, August 6, 2010

http://www.alternet.org/story/147764/

The Obama administration’s Feed the Future initiative promises a second Green Revolution that will feed a planet of nine billion people by doubling crop yields by 2050. But considering that we produce enough food to feed the planet today and a billion people still go hungry, are yields really the problem? And if they are, are providing Green Revolution technologies like hybrid and genetically engineered seeds, chemical fertilizer and pesticides to subsistence farmers the best way to achieve them? I visited subsistence farmers in Mexico to find out.

The homes of campesinos, peasant farmers, in the rural areas surrounding Cuquio, Mexico (about an hour from Guadalajara) no longer have dirt floors. The Mexican government initiated a program to replace them with cement floors in 2008 and now most homes sport a plaque celebrating their new piso firmes. Electricity came about 20 years ago. For many, running water and bathroom facilities are modern conveniences they do not yet have. The government has recently distributed composting toilets to many, but not all, families. Continue reading

Guam: Chamorro Nation Protests US Military Buildup

by Clynt Ridgell

Wednesday, 04 August 2010

Guam - Members of I Nacion Chamoru, or the Chamorro Nation, staged a peaceful demonstration at the ITC intersection Wednesday afternoon.

The Chamorro Nacion is opposed to the military buildup on Guam. Some of their members are for independence, while others are simply for a de-militarization of the island. Others still, are simply pushing for some form of self-determination. As a whole however, the group is in opposition to the buildup for a whole variety of reasons.

These reasons include the military’s plans to acquire additional lands outside of their current footprint and the plans to dredge coral in Apra harbor for an aircraft carrier wharf.

The Chamorro Nation is also concerned about the negative impacts of the population boost that will occur as a result of the buildup. Meanwhile, another organization, the “We Are Guahan Coalition”, will also be holding a peaceful protest at the ITC intersection on Friday.