Category Archives: government in service to corporate agendas

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Calls For Immediate Halt to Dakota Access Pipeline

Protecting our water is not a partisan political issue—it’s important to all people & living beings

Press Release: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Urges President to Immediately Halt Dakota Access Pipeline December 01, 2016
Washington, DC—In a speech on the House floor Thursday, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) called on President Obama to immediately halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and announced plans to join thousands of veterans from across the country to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota this weekend.

“Growing up in Hawaii, I learned the value of caring for our home, caring for our planet, and the basic principle that we are all connected in a great chain of cause and effect.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is a threat to this great balance of life. Despite strong opposition from the Standing Rock Sioux and serious concerns raised by the EPA, the Department of Interior, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and other Federal agencies, the Army Corps of Engineers approved permits to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline without adequately consulting the tribes, and without fully evaluating the potential impacts to neighboring tribal lands, sacred sites, and their water supply. Just one spill near the tribe’s reservation could release thousands of barrels of crude oil, contaminating the tribe’s drinking water.

The impact of the Dakota Access Pipeline is clear. Energy Transfer Partners, the company constructing the Dakota Pipeline, has a history of serious pipeline explosions, which have caused injury, death, and significant property damage in the past decade. The future operator of the planned pipeline, Sunoco Logistics, has had over 200 environmentally damaging oil spills in the last 6 years alone—more than any of its competitors.

Protecting our water is not a partisan political issue—it is an issue that is important to all people and all living beings everywhere. Water is life. We cannot survive without it. Once we allow an aquifer to be polluted, there is very little that can be done about it. This is why it is essential that we prevent water resources from being polluted in the first place.

Our Founding Fathers took great inspiration from Native American forms of governance, and the democratic principles that they were founded on. Their unique form of governance was built on an agreement called the Great Law of Peace, which states that before beginning their deliberations, the council shall be obliged, and I quote, “to express their gratitude to their cousins and greet them, and they shall make an address and offer thanks to the earth where men dwell, to the streams of water, the pools, the springs and the lakes, to the maize and the fruits, to the medicinal herbs and trees, to the forest trees for their usefulness, and to the Great Creator who dwells in the heavens above, who gives all the things useful to men, and who is the source and the ruler of health and life.”

This recognition of our debt to the Creator and our responsibility to be responsible members of this great web of life was there from the beginning of Western democracy.

Freedom is not a buzzword. The freedom of our Founding Fathers was not the freedom to bulldoze wherever you like.

Our freedom is a freedom of mind, a freedom of heart, freedom to worship as we see fit, freedom from tyranny and freedom from terror. That’s the freedom this country was founded on, the freedom cultivated by America’s Native people, and the freedom the Standing Rock Sioux are now exercising.

This weekend I’m joining thousands of veterans from across the country at Standing Rock to stand in solidarity with our Native American brothers and sisters. Together we call on President Obama to immediately halt the construction of this pipeline, respect the sacred lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, and respect their right to clean water. The truth is, whether it’s the threat to essential water sources in this region, the lead contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, or the threat posed to a major Hawaiʻi aquifer by the Red Hill fuel leak, each example underscores the vital importance of protecting our water resources.

We can’t undo history, but we must learn lessons from the past and carry them forward—to encourage cooperation among free people, to protect the sacred, to care for the Earth and for our children, and our children’s children. What’s at stake is our shared heritage of freedom and democracy and our shared future on this Great Turtle Island, our great United States of America.”

The Persevering Class

The New Yorker’s “A Valuable Reputation” examines yet another case of an ethical scientist vs. a large corporation. This is not the first nor the last case of science vs. profit, and in this unfortunate system of deregulation and privatization, the only solution, it appears, is to completely change the system.

When science, economics, and politics become so intertwined that the goal of safeguarding humanity becomes obsolete, it’s clear that the system is fundamentally flawed.

A few days ago, I visited the Brooklyn Grange, a rooftop farm, and after being in the concrete jungle of New York City for so long, seeing nature really refocused my attention on its importance and relevance, even in the city.

While many people follow the notion of “out of sight, out of mind,” the importance of knowing what is going into our bodies is ever so important in a world of profit driven farming, where corporations will do anything, including breaking the law, to make more profit at the expense of the environment, our health, and the law.

Scientists like Dr. Tyrone Hayes, Rachel Carson, and Frances Oldham Kelsey work diligently to maintain ethics in science and research and it’s unfortunate and unnerving to read about the mistreatment of scientists who solely wish to protect humanity. Targetting his credibility as a scientist, Syngenta made Dr. Hayes paranoid and seemingly mentally ill. The power they had to control his life in order to hide the truth about their harmful product is frightening, and surely the government and the EPA needs to take better steps to regulate products in an objective way. It’s refreshing to hear about people like Frances Oldham Kelsey, though, and to see how their dedication and ethics can truly prevent disasters.

This article deeply explores the idea of “sound science,” a campaign by corporations to “slow the pace of regulation,” as stated by the article’s author, Rachel Aviv. As we’ve seen in Merchants of Doubt and various other articles and films, corporations need only produce a certain factor of doubt and uncertainty to divide the public and keep their products in the marketplace. And focusing their attention on these issues, as opposed to the science itself, corporations lose track of what’s important in the grand scale of the world and long term impact.

What surprised me about corporations such as Syngenta is their focus on public relations departments. While one might think the purpose of such a company is to provide safe products that enhance, for example, the way vegetables are grown, these companies instead focus on convincing the public that their product is safe, rather than spending the time and money to make a new, hopefully safer one.

This article, however, introduced my to the process of cost-benefit analysis, in which, according to Aviv, “a monetary value is assigned to disease, impairments, and shortened lives and weighed against the benefits of keeping a chemical in use.” This system frightens me and I expect a majority of the public would agree that no product, regardless of its economic benefits, would be worth the lives of innocent citizens.

Thinking about how different products might impact my daily life, I think about NYU’s food service Aramark. From the personal scale of seeing the workers pour gallons of pre mixed eggs from huge bags onto the stove to make scrambled eggs to seeing the precut fruit coming out of sealed packages rather than being freshly cut, I am disgusted by their practices here in the dining halls. But, I can only imagine where this food is coming from and how they and their contractors treat the animals, fields, and workers.

Of course, everything I read online about Aramark and every corporation is going to be biased, but I’ve learned through this article to continue questioning everything, to look closely at the sources of all research and products, and to never sell myself out for money.

Standing with Standing Rock #NoDAPL

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As police are now using Facebook check-ins to target those in protest at Standing Rock, people are taking to social media to support the protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline by checking in to the Standing Rock Reservation via Facebook to dilute the check-in system and stand in solidarity with those physically protesting at Standing Rock.

Internet activism is not particularly new, and it is far from perfect.  It is not necessarily the best way to participate but it is the most accessible and in the end it is an incredibly effective means to raise awareness about issues and start conversations around them.  It’s amazing to see people taking a public stance at the intersection of an environmental and human rights issue.  Making climate change a tangible issue to the public can be difficult as its effects are not often seen immediately, but when factors of climate change are directly correlated to human rights as well I think it is easier for people to sympathize with and take action to fight the unjust.  Issues such as the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Sioux reservation exhibit how human lives, particularly an indigenous tribe, are being displaced by actions of large corporations extremely similar to many of the articles we read last week concerning Monsanto and Dartmouth.  This directly reflects how the U.S. government has continued to marginalize Native American communities.  The $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline would carry over 570,000 barrels of crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois.  Not only would this harm the surrounding environment and jeopardize safe drinking water, but sacred burial grounds and cultural traditions would be destroyed in the process.

The gallery below is just a few of the increasing posts I saw when scrolling through Facebook in the last couple of days. If there is an issue that you believe in, there is always something you can do even if it is as simple as clicking a button and sharing a link:

 

Before the Flood Documentary

This weekend, I had the opportunity to see Leonardo DiCaprio’s new film, Before the Flood. Following DiCaprio’s journey through places and phenomena shaped by climate change, the film features many familiar faces we’ve seen in documentaries about environmentalism and climate change.

As a recently appointed UN Messenger of Peace with a focus on climate change, DiCaprio has been using his stardom for quite a while to bring attention to issues on climate change. However, dissenters evenmoreso attack climate change supporters because of DiCaprio’s appointment to the UN, saying he has no scientific background and as a Hollywood actor is just as superficial as climate change is.

The film also examines climate change denialism funded by fossil fuel industries, including the Koch Brothers. Like Merchants of Doubt, the film explains that all these corporations have to do is divide the public, not win the debate; corporations find people with fairly reasonable credentials to speak lofty on climate change. This is enough to create a two-sided debate amongst the public.

But, this film brought to my attention the fact that a large percentage of US leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives are connected, in one way or another, to fossil fuel companies and halt progress on preventative measures.

Another issue the film examines is the issue of lifestyle and consumption. People argue that these issues must be put at the center of climate negotiations. American consumption of energy has increased dramatically and seemingly exponentially, and compared to the consumption of other nations is completely ridiculous. But, Dicaprio argues that consumption is never going to change; Americans are not going to want less, spend less, or expect less. Rather, what needs to change is the type of energy used: from fossil fuels to renewables.

But currently, the US is hypocritical in telling other nations to use renewables when they don’t even push it on themselves. A major question the film posed is: Why can’t the US lead by example when it comes to renewable energy and climate change provisions? Is it not our responsibility to help the world transition before it’s too late?

Besides for renewable energy, the film looks at melting glaciers in Iceland, rising sea levels and its effect on small island countries and even here in the US, the effect of palm oil throughout the world, air quality and toxicity in China, coral reef destruction, “carbon bombs” in forest fires, and methane release from cows, among other topics. This film certainly tries to tie all of these topics into one large discussion on climate change, and while overwhelming, it certainly brings to awareness many issues that I’ve known about and many that I hadn’t learned about.

Ending the Paris Climate Accord Signing and serving as the ending of the film, DiCaprio powerfully declared to world leaders: “Now think about the shame that each of us will carry when our children and grandchildren look back and realize that we had the means of stopping this devastation, but simply lacked the political will to do so. Massive change is required right now—one that leads to a new collective consciousness, a new collective evolution of the human race inspired and enabled by a sense of urgency from all of you. You are the last best hope of earth. We ask you to protect it. Or we, and all living things we cherish, are history.”

If you have time, I highly recommend seeing this film in theaters, on Hulu, or on YouTube.

Watch this Documentary: Why We Fight

There is a powerful documentary from 2005 called “Why We Fight.” I urge you to watch it, especially if you are curious about how the politics of war in the US operate. Below is a trailer:

To summarize what I found educational about this film is that is shows you how big of a corporate business our war is in America. It elaborates on the strategies in the war on Iraq and wars today. In relation to environmentalism, it talks about how they use resources and develop weaponry for MASSIVE profit.

I saw that the actual film can be watched section to section on YouTube or rented through Netflix DVD )

DOJ press release on Native Americans vs. US Army Corps of Engineers and Entergy Corp.

 Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, September 9, 2016 Joint Statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior Regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers  The Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior issued the following statement regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:  “We appreciate the District Court’s opinion on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act.  However, important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and their members regarding the Dakota Access pipeline specifically, and pipeline-related decision-making generally, remain.  Therefore, the Department of the Army, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior will take the following steps.https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/joint-statement-department-justice-department-army-and-department-interior-regarding-standing