The Evening Blues - 6-16-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features soul singer Little Junior Lewis. Enjoy!
Little Junior Lewis - Your heart must be made of stone
"Mainstream media: We must stop the spread of crazy conspiracy theories even if we have to censor the entire internet.
Also the mainstream media: The US military says it’s been lying about UFOs for decades and maybe space aliens are flying around above your house."
-- Caitlin Johnstone
News and Opinion
Worth a full read:
The US Department of Justice is under increasing fire for the still-unfolding scandals involving the secret surveillance of journalists and even members of Congress in the waning days of the Trump presidency. Some of these actions were even initially defended by the Biden administration’s Department of Justice. In response to the growing scandal – and the scathing condemnations from the surveillance targets at the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN – the US attorney general, Merrick Garland, has vowed the DoJ will no longer use legal process to spy on journalists “doing their jobs”. The Times, the Post and CNN are set to meet with the justice department this week to seek more information on what happened and extract further promises it won’t happen again.
But mark my words: if Congress does not pass tough and binding rules that permanently tie the DoJ’s hands, it will happen again – whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican in the White House. Promises are no longer enough. In many circles, these scandals are being portrayed as the Trump White House run amok. While some in the Trump justice department may have been motivated by political vengeance, the problem is far bigger than Donald Trump, William Barr or even the party in charge of the White House.
As the reporter Charlie Savage detailed in an excellent piece in the New York Times over the weekend, administrations in both parties have spied on journalists with increasing abandon for almost two decades, in contravention of internal DoJ regulations and against the spirit of the first amendment. Many people already forget that before Trump was known as enemy number one of press freedom, Barack Obama’s justice department did more damage to reporters’ rights than any administration since Nixon.
So yes, Garland needs to immediately put his “no more spying on reporters” vow into the DoJ’s official “media guidelines”, which govern investigations involving journalists. If he doesn’t, he or his successor could change their mind in an instant. But, why should we just “trust” Garland’s pinky promise to not investigate journalists and politicians without an ironclad law? ...
But there is another issue looming large over this debate, one that many seem hesitant to talk about. Garland has said so far that the DoJ won’t spy on journalists unless they are engaged in a crime. Well, the DoJ is currently attempting to make newsgathering a crime, in the form of its case against the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. ... If Garland bars surveillance of journalists “doing their jobs” but secures a conviction that makes journalists’ jobs a crime, his promises will ultimately be worse than meaningless.
The home furnishings group Ikea has been ordered to pay €1.1m (£861,000) in fines and damages by a French court after being found guilty of spying on staff. Two former Ikea France executives were also convicted and fined over an elaborate scheme to gather information on hundreds of employees, job applicants and even customers over several years, using private detectives and police sources. ...
They were found guilty of “receiving personal data by fraudulent means”, though the sentences were less severe than sought by prosecutors, who accused them of illicitly carrying out “mass surveillance”.
Judges at the court in the Paris suburb of Versailles found that between 2009 and 2012 the French subsidiary of the Swedish furniture retailer used espionage to sift out perceived troublemakers on its staff, particularly union members, and gather information on customers in dispute with the company. The information collected included details on people’s lifestyles and any previous criminal convictions.
Israel has launched airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, the first since a truce ended 11 days of cross-border fighting last month, in response to incendiary balloons launched from the Palestinian territory. The flare-up in violence, a first test for Israel’s new government sworn in three days ago, followed a march in East Jerusalem on Tuesday by Jewish nationalists that had drawn threats of action by Hamas, the ruling militant group in Gaza.
The Israeli military said its aircraft attacked Hamas armed compounds in Gaza City and the southern town of Khan Younis in the early hours of Wednesday, and was “ready for all scenarios, including renewed fighting in the face of continued terrorist acts emanating from Gaza”. The strikes, the military said, came in response to the launching of the balloons, which the Israeli fire brigade reported caused 20 blazes in open fields in communities near the Gaza border.
A Hamas spokesman, confirming the Israeli attacks, said Palestinians would continue to pursue their “brave resistance and defend their rights and sacred sites” in Jerusalem.
Earlier in the day, Israeli police fired rubber-tipped bullets at Palestinians protesting against a march by Jewish ultranationalists through Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, a provocative parade that threatened to damage the fragile Gaza ceasefire. At one point, several dozen young men and teenagers, jumping in their air, chanted: “Death to Arabs!” Palestinian medics said Israeli police had wounded more than 30 people protesting against the parade.
Democracy Now catapults the propaganda. Pretty disappointing.
Worth a read:
A new report published in Railway Age magazine and written by the Information Technology Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has sounded the alarm about China’s growing high-speed rail sector. The report comes amid escalations in the U.S.’s New Cold War against China, of which technology is a key component. China is by far the world leader in high-speed rail investment and development, sporting more than 35,000 kilometers (21,700 miles) of high-speed rail, or 68 percent of the world’s total. The ITIF itself admits to China’s rapid success in this sector since its first high-speed rail line was completed in 2008:
Since then, China has opened thousands of kilometers of high-speed lines with speeds ranging from 200 to 350 kph. To do this, China spent hundreds of billions of dollars on the world’s most expensive public-works project since President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System of the 1950s.
The United States might learn from China’s success in investing in high-speed rail and try and emulate it; however, according to the ITIF, China’s high-speed rail policies damage “innovation” by privileging domestic market development and state-owned enterprises over the interests of private, foreign firms primarily residing in the West. China is accused of employing a form of “mercantilism” to manipulate the global market at the expense of the superior capabilities of Western, Japanese, and American investors. The term “mercantilism” has been used by big business interests in the U.S. and West to portray China’s policy of indigenous development as a high crime against the free market. In fact, the ITIF has been sounding the alarm about China’s prioritization of its own tech sector since 2013. It lamented that China was no longer keeping its promise “to be a low-cost production platform for foreign multinational corporations (MNCs).” As if the Chinese government’s function was to serve the latter’s needs and not that of its own people. ...
Richard Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations noted in a 2002 speech at the State Department that think tanks serve as an important bridge between policy and action, and have been shaping U.S. foreign policy for over 100 years. What Haass leaves out is that the majority are funded by corporate and military interests to help condition the public and skew public policy in a direction that favors capitalist elites and not the public at large. The Information Technology Innovation Foundation (ITIF) claims to be an independent public policy think-tank based in Washington, D.C. However, a closer look into its background demonstrates that ITIF is a pillar of free-market fundamentalism and the military and corporate domination in world affairs required to maintain the U.S.-led neoliberal order. ...
To punish China’s public investment in high-speed rail, the ITIF recommends first and foremost that foreign competitors, principally the United States and Europe, pursue sanctions against China. ... The ITIF specifically calls on the EU and the United States to work together to prevent Chinese acquisition of rail firms and contracts abroad. Perhaps most damning is the ITIF’s inclusion of the demand that the World Bank withdraw financial support to China. Historically, the World Bank has operated alongside the IMF as an enforcer of global privatization, particularly in the Global South. ... That the ITIF would demand the withdrawal of World Bank funds from Chinese-backed high-speed rail projects demonstrates the lengths the U.S. and its allies will go to contain the rise of China.
Sanctions are indisputably the economic weapon of choice in the U.S.-led New Cold War on China. ... Regardless of whether the justification is “human rights” or “competition,” the effect of sanctions is to starve countries of their capacity to meet the needs of their people in the hopes that they will either “play ball” with U.S. and EU hegemony or see their political systems replaced with more compliant regimes. China does not “play ball” with U.S. hegemony. China maintains public ownership over key sectors of the economy such as high-speed rail and disregards U.S. and European sanctions placed on poor nations across the Global South. This is evidenced by China’s massive bilateral relationships with Iran and Russia . China is also Europe’s, Latin America’s, and Africa’s largest trading partner. Furthermore, high-speed rail marks only one area where China has surpassed the U.S. and European powers technologically. China leads the world in artificial intelligence, regenerative medicine, and a host of other sectors that once were dominated by private U.S. and European firms. Sanctions are thus deemed necessary to arrest the development of China’s large publicly driven tech sector from taking the reins as the foremost economic power.
Mexico’s president has announced plans to make the national guard part of the army, erasing the thin pretense of a civilian-controlled force that was used to gain approval for its creation two years ago. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador dissolved the former federal police soon after taking office in late 2018, saying the force was corrupt. He replaced it with the national guard under the nominal control of the civilian public safety department.
The idea was that the 100,000-member guard could gradually allow the army to withdraw from law enforcement duties. But the vast majority of recruits, officers and training always came from the military, often on loan. López Obrador said on Tuesday he planned to propose a constitutional amendment to make the national guard part of the defense department, to ensure its budget would not be cut by subsequent administrations.
The last national law enforcement force created in Mexico – the gendarmes created by López Obrador’s predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto – suffered exactly that fate.
But the army’s involvement in civilian policing has drawn complaints from the opposition and human rights groups, who say the only way out of Mexico’s persistent high levels of violence is to clean up and strengthen the often corrupt, underfunded and poorly trained civilian police forces. Critics say the army’s involvement in numerous human rights abuses proves it is neither trained nor suited for law enforcement.
The American ruling class “experiments” with eliminating unemployment benefits for millions of workers
Governors in 25 US states have already eliminated or will soon begin eliminating pandemic related supplemental unemployment benefits, depriving some four million jobless workers of $22 billion in additional assistance according to the Century Foundation. The elimination of the $300 a week federal unemployment benefits began this past Saturday in Mississippi, Missouri, Iowa and Alaska. The other 21 states are set to remove the assistance by July 10. Twenty-one out of the 25 states, including Maryland, Texas and Tennessee, will be ending all pandemic related program, such as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (for “gig workers”) and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. ...
In the capitalist press, the move to eliminate unemployment support for millions of workers and their families has been described as an “experiment.” NBC News declared on June 11: “It’s the beginning of a bold, mass, social and economic experiment to see if turning off federal unemployment benefits early for half the country will prod people in those states back to work.” This “bold experiment” will mean, in practice, throwing millions of people into poverty and destitution while facilitating the further spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
There are two, interrelated motivations driving the cutoff of unemployment benefits. First, there is the imperative of the ruling class to get workers back on the job, even as the pandemic continues to claim hundreds of lives every day and dangerous new strains, such as the Delta variant, are spreading rapidly. The ruling class, with the Biden administration at its head, has proclaimed the pandemic “over.” Supplemental federal unemployment benefits of $600 a week were included in the CARES Act, which was passed in late March 2020. The temporary assistance provided to those devastated by the economic impact of the pandemic was intended as a stopgap measure and a cover for the act’s main purpose: the multitrillion bailout of Wall Street. ...
Second, the ruling class is concerned that the relative shortage of labor in some industries is contributing to rising wages. “The Fed could be facing a jobs headache in its inflation fight,” wrote CNBC last week. “The longer it takes to get people back to work,” it declared, “the more employers will have to pay.” CNBC quotes Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics: “Unfortunately, we see good reasons to think that labor participation might not return quickly to its pre-Covid level. Whatever is happening here, the Fed needs large numbers of these people to return to the labor force in the fall.” ...
The ruling class’s “experiment” with its homicidal herd immunity policy has led to the deaths of more than 600,000 people in the US. Now, the cutoff of unemployment assistance will mean social devastation for millions. In both cases the reality of capitalism and the consequences of the subordination of society to the interests of the financial oligarchy is exposed.
Thousands of Southern Baptists from across the US are heading to Tennessee this week to vote for their next president, a choice laced with tension that could push America’s largest evangelical Christian denomination even further to the right and potentially spark an exodus of Black pastors and congregations.
Each of the three leading candidates for president presents a unique vision for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and will help guide the Protestant denomination through the thorny issues it currently faces – declining membership, deep divisions over acknowledging the existence of systemic racism and fresh accusations of mishandling sexual abuse allegations.
The denomination, which is more socially conservative than the general American public on issues such as abortion and LGBTQ+ rights, would become even more politically aligned with Republican party if it were to elect the Georgia pastor Mike Stone as its next president. On the other side, the Alabama pastor Ed Litton has called for more distance from politics, and has the support of prominent Black Southern Baptists, who are part of a minority group that has been crucial in shoring up the SBC’s dwindling membership. Landing somewhere between Litton and Stone is the seminary president Albert Mohler, a former “Never Trumper” who endorsed Donald Trump’s 2020 election campaign.
Barry Hankins, a historian at Baylor University who studies evangelicalism, said that the SBC seems to be going through an “identity crisis”.
“There is a strong faction that wants to be in lock step with the culture wars of the Republican party and a smaller group that wants to maintain a more independent witness within American culture,” he said.
The Democratic primary for Manhattan district attorney was, for a time, seen as an opportunity to elect a progressive prosecutor to one of the most powerful DA offices in the country. But with one week to go until New York City’s primary election, the race has devolved into a contest between a self-funded millionaire with Wall Street support and a crowded field of candidates struggling to keep up.
Tali Farhadian Weinstein, former general counsel to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, gave four contributions to her own campaign between May 20 and June 7 totaling $8.2 million — more than the total amount raised by the other seven candidates combined. A poll released last week by Data for Progress shows Weinstein, whose husband is a hedge fund manager, and former chief deputy attorney general for New York state Alvin Bragg leading among likely Manhattan Democratic primary voters. The poll asked respondents to rank their choices, but the DA election will not have ranked-choice voting.
Weinstein’s campaign has spent more than $6.25 million in the final weeks of the race, including on mailers attacking Bragg, and reported just under $3 million on hand. Major Republican donors have also contributed large sums to Weinstein’s campaign, New York Focus reported. ...
What’s happened in the DA’s race is “unfortunate,” said Matt Thomas, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America’s New York City chapter. (The group did not endorse any candidates in the race.) “The whole reason that there is this movement around DAs is that not only are they powerful offices, but they have unilateral executive authority that is really rare to be able to wield in progressive hands.” Though Thomas said he didn’t have insight into “why the field didn’t really clear for one candidate,” he noted that activist support was divided in this race. “A lot of the institutional left was focused on the mayor’s race and city council races.”
The race has attracted national attention and split groups on the left. Color of Change PAC endorsed Bragg in May. Sen. Bernie Sanders and the Working Families Party endorsed civil rights attorney Tahanie Aboushi. Hillary Clinton endorsed Weinstein in May.
Donald Trump tried to enlist top US law enforcement officials in a conspiracy-laden and doomed effort to overturn his election defeat, a campaign they described as “pure insanity”, newly released emails show. The documents reveal Trump and his allies’ increasingly desperate efforts between December and early January to push bogus conspiracy theories and cling to power – and the struggle of bewildered justice department officials to resist them. ...
At least five times, the documents show, the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, instructed justice department officials to investigate false allegations of voter fraud, including a conspiracy theory called “Italygate”, which claims electoral data was changed from Europe by means including military satellites and with the knowledge of the CIA.
On 1 January Meadows, a fierce Trump loyalist, sent Jeffrey Rosen, then acting attorney general, a link to a YouTube video detailing the “Italygate” theory. Rosen forwarded the email to the then acting deputy attorney general, Richard Donoghue, who replied: “Pure insanity.” The documents also show that Trump pressured Rosen to make the justice department take up election fraud claims.
But Rosen refused to arrange a meeting between officials and Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who has played a leading role in pushing the conspiracy theories. Meadows asked Rosen to help arrange a meeting with Giuliani, the emails show. ...
Meadows also sent an email to Rosen about alleged irregularities in Fulton county, Georgia, a state Joe Biden won narrowly. Rosen again forwarded the email to Donoghue and asked: “Can you believe this? I am not going to respond to the message below.”
Rev. Barber Says West Virginians Are Ready for 'Non-Violent Sit-Ins' Against Manchin for Abetting GOP Voter Suppression
Rev. Dr. William Barber II said late Monday that West Virginians are prepared to stage non-violent sit-ins at Sen. Joe Manchin's office to protest the Democratic lawmaker's ongoing obstruction of key voting rights legislation, opposition to an ambitious infrastructure package, and support for the 60-vote filibuster rule.
"He's serving the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, not the U.S. Constitution," Barber said in an appearance on MSNBC as he and hundreds of others with the Poor People's Campaign rallied in Charleston, West Virginia to denounce Manchin's stonewalling of popular and urgent legislation, including the For the People Act.
One recent poll found that more than two-thirds of West Virginia voters support the For the People Act, which would counter hundreds of Republican-authored voter suppression bills that are making their way through state legislatures across the nation.
"By filibustering, he's blocking, he's blocking the things that his state needs. He's standing against his own state. They didn't send him there for that," continued Barber, the co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign. "Why would a senator from West Virginia have his office in the lotto building? Maybe because he's gambling with people's healthcare, he's gambling with people's living wages, he's gambling with people's voting rights."
Around 350 people took part in Monday's event in Charleston, which ended with a march on Manchin's office. There demonstrators were met by members of the West Virginia senator's staff, who—according to the Associated Press—"offered comment cards to collect protestors' grievances."
"We don't want to talk to the staff," Barber reportedly told the aides.
In his MSNBC interview Monday, Barber said the people of West Virginia are ready to hold "non-violent sit-ins at [Manchin's] office" if he continues to abet Republican voter suppression. Since the beginning of the year, according to the latest tally from the Brennan Center for Justice, at least 14 Republican-led states have enacted 22 laws that restrict voting rights.
"When you suppress the vote, guess what? You hurt poor folk in the mountains, you hurt Black folk in the city, you hurt everybody," Barber added. "This is about right versus wrong. This is a moral issue, a constitutional issue, and we're gonna stand and fight against it—even if we gotta go to jail."
The For the People Act is expected to hit the Senate floor for a full vote at some point later this month, but its chances of passage are virtually non-existent with Manchin vowing to join every Republican senator in opposing the bill despite its popularity across the political spectrum.
Manchin, the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, has yet to waver in the face of appeals from civil rights leaders and others imploring him to change his position on the bill, which would institute stronger campaign finance rules, expand ballot access nationwide through automatic voter registration, and restrict the ability of states to purge voter rolls. ...
"Joe Manchin isn't moved by leaders who have spent decades organizing for civil rights," Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) tweeted last week. "Manchin isn't moved by the views of his constituents. Manchin isn't moved by GOP voter suppression bills in 43 states. Because Manchin is only moved by corporate donors and their agenda."
It was one of Donald Trump’s most provocative environmental decisions. After a year in office, he angered preservationists and Native American tribes and ordered that two treasured national monuments be dramatically reduced in size. The areas falling outside the diminished monuments, both expanses of rocky outcroppings dense with archaeological artifacts in Utah, lost environmental protections. A few years later, he also ordered that commercial fishing be allowed in a marine preserve off the coast of New England.
Now the fate of those monuments appears to be coming full circle. The US interior secretary, Deb Haaland, on Tuesday recommended that Joe Biden restore their former size and protections, the Washington Post first reported.
Haaland’s decision comes as little surprise. In 2019, Haaland, who is a member of the Laguna Pueblo and the first Indigenous cabinet member, described the wonder of the shrunken Bears Ears national monument in Utah in an interview with the Guardian: “There are some pretty amazing ruins there, and you know, I don’t even like to call them ruins,” she said, “because in our culture, in Pueblo culture, if you acknowledge our ancestors, they are there. The spirit of the people never leaves.”
It isn’t yet clear if Biden will follow Haaland’s recommendations, but during his presidential campaign he pledged to restore Utah’s monuments.
When a natural gas pipeline fire south-west of New Orleans killed one worker and burned three others, the Louisiana state police ordered Phillips 66 to pay a $22,000 fine for failing to immediately report the incident. The fire burned for four days before first responders could put it out. But the company ultimately didn’t pay any police fine, ending up with just a warning.
That story is common, according to public records reviewed by the Louisiana Illuminator and Floodlight with the Guardian. The Louisiana state police – which oversees pipeline safety – issued 34 fines and five warning letters in the past five years. A quarter of those penalties were reduced: three were lowered, five were replaced with warning letters and two were dismissed. The fines that did stick were low, between $2,250 and $8,000. Aside from the obvious potential harms to workers, gas leaks pose fire risks and can cause respiratory problems for people in nearby communities.
Despite the record of lax enforcement by the state police, gas companies in the state say they are being treated unfairly and have lobbied for legislation to loosen requirements around reporting pipeline leaks. Louisiana has more gas pipelines than any other state except Texas, and more gas pipeline projects are planned in the state to support the growing demand for US natural gas exports.
The proposal, House Bill 549 from Louisiana’s Republican representative Danny McCormick, was approved by Louisiana lawmakers and has been sent to the Democratic governor John Bel Edwards’ desk. It is one of many efforts by the influential oil and gas industry to avoid regulation and keep its tax rates low in the state. If signed into law, it would absolve companies from reporting natural gas leaks of less than 1,000 pounds, unless they cause hospitalization or death. ...
John Porter, the commander of the emergency services unit of the Louisiana state police, warned lawmakers that looser reporting thresholds could trigger public health concerns when smaller leaks happen in populated areas. “If we have a gas leak at a major intersection, 1,000 pounds would be an extreme amount with vehicles traveling by, with pedestrians traveling by,” he said. “And all we’re asking is for notification for us so we can get the proper emergency services people out there to protect the public.”
BREAKING: overwhelming support by EU Parliament for a ban on cages for farmed animals!
Today the EU Parliament have adopted a resolution urging the EU Commission to #EndTheCageAge by 2027.
85 abstained pic.twitter.com/YozcApPy6p
— Compassion in World Farming (@ciwf) June 10, 2021
Toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” are widely used in cosmetics produced by major brands in the US and Canada, a new study that tested for the chemicals in hundreds of products found.
The peer-reviewed study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, detected what the study’s authors characterized as “high” levels of organic fluorine, an indicator of PFAS, in over half of 231 makeup and personal care samples. That includes lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, foundation, concealer, lip balm, blush, nail polish and more.
The products that most frequently contain high levels of fluorine include waterproof mascara (82% of brands tested), foundations (63%) and liquid lipstick (62%).
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 9,000 compounds used to make products such as food packaging, clothing and carpeting water and stain resistant. They are often dubbed “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down and have been found to accumulate in humans.
The chemicals are linked at certain levels to cancer, birth defects, liver disease, thyroid disease, decreased immunity, hormone disruption, and a range of other serious health problems.
After repeated rulings from Norwegian courts that the nation's oil policy does not violate its constitution, six young climate activists and two environmental groups on Tuesday announced an application for a related case to the European Court of Human Rights.
The activists—ages 20 to 27—along with Young Friends of the Earth Norway and Greenpeace Nordic are now arguing that Norwegian Arctic oil drilling violates Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (pdf), which outline the right to life and right to respect for private and family life, respectively.
"Within these two articles, the ECtHR has previously interpreted a right to protection from environmental harm," Greenpeace noted on a webpage for the case, referencing the court. Although there are no possible sanctions the ECtHR can impose if it issues a judgment and Norway refuses to comply, the plaintiffs believe such a move could impact the nation's foreign relations.
The "People vs. Arctic Oil" case comes just months ahead of a major summit for parties to the Paris climate agreement and in the wake of the International Energy Agency warning last month that the world must immediately transition from fossil fuels to utilizing renewable sources like solar and wind.
"The oil industry and the oil-friendly parties' bible has been the IEA reports," Frode Pleym, leader of Greenpeace Norway, told Bloomberg Green. "The IEA has now been clear on what we need to do to achieve the goals from Paris: that is to stop exploring for more oil."
"The Norwegian state is gambling with my future when it opens up new areas for climate-wrecking oil drilling," said 20-year-old Gina Gylver, one of the activists, in a statement. "This is yet another case of a greedy and oil-thirsty state leaving the detrimental consequences of global warming up to the future decision-makers, which are today's youth." ...
Pleym, in his comments to Bloomberg, acknowledged that it could be years before the case concludes, if the Strasbourg-based ECtHR even accepts the application.
"It could take between one and five years," Pleym said. "But for us, it would be a victory in itself if they're accepting the case."
Reuters reported that the announcement of the case "came as Equinor, the oil firm majority-controlled by the government, on Tuesday announced it would speed up investments in renewable energy while also continuing to raise oil output for the next five years."
A retired special education teacher from Louisiana who led a successful grassroots campaign to stop construction of a toxic plastics plant in America’s Cancer Alley has won the 2021 Goldman prize for environmental defenders. Sharon Lavigne, 68, organised marches, petitions, town hall meetings and media campaigns after elected officials gave the green light to the construction of another polluting factory in St James parish – a majority-Black community already blighted by heavy industry and exorbitant cancer rates.
The proposed $1.25bn Chinese-owned plastics plant would have generated a million pounds (450,000kg) of liquid hazardous waste every year, including hundreds of tonnes of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, a carcinogenic chemical that affects respiratory function, as well as carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, formaldehyde and benzene.
Despite the risks posed to human and environmental health, in late 2018 St James parish council expedited permits for the company Wanhua, granted them a 10-year exemption from property taxes and re-zoned the residential area without properly consulting the community. “They let these companies come into our Black and brown neighborhoods when they know this stuff is killing us,” Lavigne told the Guardian. “This would have been two miles downwind from my house. I wasn’t going to allow any more industry into St James parish.”
Located between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, St James parish sits in what has become known as Cancer Alley – an 80-mile stretch along the Mississippi River where mostly low-income black communities live and breathe amid 200 or so petrochemical plants, pipelines and oil depots. Lavigne mobilised the community against the Wanhua plant through Rise St James – a faith-based environmental justice organisation she founded in 2018. She was at the forefront of the opposition, knocking on doors, testifying at parish council meetings and other hearings, and petitioning local and state officials to issue moratoriums on new industrial construction.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Little Junior Lewis - Can She Give Me Fever
Marie Knight & Junior Lewis - Nothing in the World
Little Junior Lewis & Group - That's All I Need
Junior Lewis - It Won't Work Out
Junior Lewis - Cupid's Little Helper
Little Junior Lewis - Come On Back Where You Belong
Little Junior Lewis - Half a Heart
Junior Lewis - Raise Your Hand
Junior Lewis - Too Bad
Junior Lewis - Where Do I Go From Here