Category Archives: Climate Change & Environmental Issues

‘This Needs to Happen All Over America’: Applause for Candidate Who Called Out Big Oil Donors

“Why do we need campaign finance reform? This. This is why.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-12-2018

West Virginia House of Delegates candidate Lissa Lucas was hailed as a model for congressional candidates across the nation after she read off the names of politicians taking money from the oil and gas industry. (Photo: Facebook/Screengrab)

When West Virginia House of Delegates candidate Lissa Lucas decided to take a stand against Big Oil’s pernicious political influence last week by rattling off the names of state lawmakers receiving massive campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry, she was swiftly and forcefully silenced.

Now, her story—first reported by journalist Russell Mokhiber in a piece for Common Dreams on Sunday—has become a viral sensation and a model for those looking to challenge the stranglehold corporate cash has on the American political system.

Watch the video of the incident, which has since garnered over 133,000 views on Facebook: Continue reading


New Details Alleged in Scheme to Make Millions Off First Border Wall in Texas

Screenshot: YouTube

The kickback scheme was allegedly hashed out over weeknight drinks at a steakhouse in a border county in south Texas. Amid surf and turf and expensive scotch, a Hidalgo County official said he would meet with contractors in the clubby confines of the restaurant in a strip mall in McAllen.

There, Godfrey Garza Jr., director of the county’s drainage district, cajoled company executives to hire a firm owned by his family in exchange for a cut of lucrative construction contracts, according to new documents filed in state district court in Hidalgo County. The target of the plan: a $232 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the county to build a border fence and rehabilitate aging dirt levees along the Rio Grande. Continue reading


‘Outrageous’ Gold Rush-Style Grab of Public Lands To Begin in Less Than 48 Hours

Conservationists, local tribe leaders, Democratic legislators, and even a UN expert decry this “serious attack on indigenous peoples’ rights.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-31-2018

Activists and politicians are opposing the Trump administration’s move to allow mining at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. (Photo: ksblack99/Flickr)

Despite protests from conservationists, local tribe leaders, Democratic lawmakers, and even the United Nations’ expert on indigenous rights, at 6am on Friday the Trump administration will allow citizens and companies to start staking claims on sections of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah so the new stakeholders can conduct hard rock mining on the formerly protected lands.

“It is outrageous to witness the dismantling of the Bears Ears national monument, in what constitutes a serious attack on indigenous peoples’ rights in the United States,” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. Continue reading


Leaked Trump Infrastructure Plan Ripped as Thinly-Veiled ‘Assault on the Environment’

“The memo reveals an infrastructure plan that is essentially a giveaway to corporations at the expense of the American people and our environment.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-27-2018

“The administration’s legislative outline for infrastructure sacrifices clean air, water, the expertise of career agency staff, and bedrock environmental laws,” concluded Theresa Pierno, president of the National Parks Conservation Association. (Photo: Mark Dixon/Flickr/cc)

Green groups reacted with alarm on Friday to a leaked Trump administration infrastructure draft that proposes a drastic rollback of environmental regulations in an attempt to expedite the construction of water-threatening oil pipelines, roads, bridges—and, of course, “the wall.”

The draft also includes a provision that would “expand the government’s ability to have private firms pay for the federal environmental reviews of their own projects” while also restricting the ability of federal agencies to “weigh in or block a project from going forward,” the Washington Post, which first obtained the leaked proposal, reports. Continue reading


Doomsday Clock Now ‘2 Minutes to Midnight’ as Trump Drives Up Nuclear and Climate Threats

“It’s always sobering to be reminded just how close humanity is to destroying itself with nuclear weapons.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-25-2018

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists announced on Thursday it has moved up the Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight. (Bulletin of Atomic Scientists/Facebook)

In response to rising nuclear tensions and concerns about inadequate action to address the climate crisis, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced Thursday the hands of the Doomsday Clock have been moved and it is now just two minutes midnight, a signal to the world that international scientists and policy experts are increasingly worried about the likeliness of global catastrophe.

“In 2017, world leaders failed to respond effectively to the looming threats of nuclear war and climate change, making the world security situation more dangerous than it was a year ago—and as dangerous as it has been since World War II,” said a statement from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Continue reading


Why the Minnesota Vikings win is disheartening to some Minnesotans

Written by Carol Benedict

In case you have not heard, the Minnesota Vikings won the NFC Divisional Game on Sunday, after a near-defeat in traditional Vikings playoff style. Fans were ecstatic. “WE WON!” was shouted everywhere in Minnesota.

Except a few places. Not many of the homeless people were celebrating the win in a warm cozy home with game food laid out for an afternoon of face-stuffing. Not many of the unvisited residents of the state’s nursing homes thought as much about the game as they did about where their families were. A good portion of the minority communities facing possible deportation thought less of a football game than spending perhaps the last day possible with loved ones they might never see again.

By Monday, people in the state’s employment sector that worked on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, were still talking about the big game. The office coffee pots were constant witness to the sometimes hour-long reflections on “where I was and what I was doing” during the big moment of the final play. The first 5 minutes of local news broadcasts focused on people who had left the stadium or turned off the television before victory was clear. As of Tuesday, the 5 most read stories in the Minneapolis Star Tribune are all centered on the Vikings win last Sunday.

In preparation for the SuperBowl, Minneapolis has agreed to several “policies” that the people of Minneapolis were never given a voice, choice or opinion about. Those with annual permits to park near where they work have had those permits pulled so the space can sell for $100 or more for the SuperBowl events. Homeless people within the “security perimeter” are supposed to be “re-located” to other shelters. Even stray cats and dogs are being sent to other shelters. Local news also reported, “…MACC needs to “keep the shelter as empty as possible because in the event of an emergency, the building could be used for an influx of animals, or even to shelter people.”

“Snipers will be on rooftops and in buildings in strategic places. Officers in head-to-toe commando gear will be on the streets gripping assault rifles against their chests. Minneapolis Police Cmdr. Scott Gerlicher said the influx of federal agents to Minnesota will be the largest in the 52 years of Super Bowl history,” reports the Star Tribune.

All these moves and decisions are being done to protect people going to a sporting event. Remember that sporting events at the professional level are nothing more than a corporation (NFL) selling you their product (football team) as an entertainment vehicle to encourage participation through purchases of tickets, game gear, trinkets and other such memorabilia. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the business model or the consumers of the products.

What would happen if Minnesotans would put the same amount of time, effort, energy and money into causes for the good of Minnesota? What would it look like to have as many people cheer a win for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in it’s fight for life against a foreign corporation intending to build a copper and nickel mining operation in the middle of it? How many fewer attacks would the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center have experienced if the same amount of people came out to support the rejection of hate as came out for a Vikings game? How many people spent more time waiting in traffic and lines on game day than they did being stopped by a Black Lives Matter protest in the past, yet still are unable to recognize the injustices that the black community faces on a daily basis?

There was, and still is, a place in our society to come out and enjoy America’s favorite pastime; sports events. But shouldn’t it be done with more balance to the other things that matter greatest in life? If you are fortunate enough to be able to get to the end of your life to gather those that mean the most to you during your final moments, will you ask for your football team or your family?

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an independent researcher and human rights activist. She is also an independent Journalist and a professional member of the US Press Association.




Donald Trump doesn’t understand Haiti, immigration or American history

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After Haiti signed its Declaration of Independence from France, in 1804, the U.S. started a 60-year political and economic embargo that hobbled the young nation’s growth. Wikimedia

Chantalle F. Verna, Florida International University

Donald Trump’s denigrating comments about Haiti during a recent congressional meeting shocked people around the globe, but given his track record of disrespecting immigrants, they were not actually that surprising.

Despite campaign promises that Trump would be Haiti’s “biggest champion,” his administration had already demonstrated its disregard for people from this Caribbean island. In November 2017, the Department of Homeland Security announced it would end the Temporary Protected Status that had allowed 59,000 Haitians to stay in the U.S. after a calamitous Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake.

Their TPS was extended after Hurricane Matthew devastated Haiti again in 2016. Without protected status, these Haitian migrants have until July 2019 to get a green card, leave voluntarily or be deported. Continue reading


New Report on Radioactive Tap Water Renews Concerns About Trump Nominee for Top Environmental Role

Critics are challenging Trump’s “outrageous” and “alarming” move to renominate the former head of a Texas environmental agency who has admitted to falsifying reports of radiation levels in drinking water

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-12-2018

A new investigation reveals that from 2010 to 2015, more than 170 million Americans—including about 25 million in California and 22 million in Texas—were drinking water contaminated with radioactive elements. (Photo: Steve Johnson/Flickr/cc)

A new five-year investigation revealing that more than 170 million Americans were drinking water contaminated with radioactive elements is also renewing concerns about President Donald Trump’s pick for a top environmental position in his administration—Kathleen Hartnett White, who ran Texas’ environmental agency while it was falsifying reports of radiation levels in tap water.

White chaired the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) from 2003 to 2007, and admitted to local reporters in 2011 that the agency intentionally lowered the radiation level reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because, “We did not believe the science of health effects justified EPA setting the standard where they did.”  Continue reading


Corporate Media ‘Failed’ to Connect 2017’s Extreme Weather to Climate Crisis: Study

“We can’t fix the climate crisis if we aren’t talking about it. It’s critical that the media start reporting on the crisis with the quality and quantity it merits. We’re talking about the greatest challenge of our time.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-5-2018

“Given the gravity and urgency of the climate crisis, as well as a surfeit of relevant, newsworthy developments, one would expect U.S. media to report on climate and clean energy issues daily,” Public Citizen’s David Arkush writes. (Photo: Public Citizen)

Despite the fact that 2017 saw a flurry of devastating and “record-shattering” hurricanes, enormously destructive wildfires, and extreme droughts, a new report by Public Citizen published on Friday concludes that major American media outlets “largely failed” to connect these weather events to the broader global climate crisis.

Titled “Carbon Omission: How the U.S. Media Underreported Climate Change in 2017” (pdf) and written by Public Citizen’s climate program director David Arkush, the analysis takes an in-depth look at the 2017 weather coverage of more than a dozen prominent newspapers and television networks, from the New York Times to the Denver Post to the Fox News Network. Continue reading


With Oceans Under Greatest Threat Ever, Trump Administration Urges Even Less Protection for Marine Life

“It shouldn’t be too much to ask to protect two percent of the U.S.’s exclusive economic zone off the Atlantic coast for future generations.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 1-2-2018

President Trump’s Interior Department has recommended shrinking the protected area of the Pacific Remote Islands marine monument, the largest protected area of the world’s oceans. (Photo: NOAA Photo Library/Flickr/cc)

With the world’s oceans more severely threatened than ever before, President Donald Trump’s Interior Department is recommending even less protection for the fraction of ocean life the U.S. has guarded from commercial fishing and other activities in recent years.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed that three ocean monuments in the Pacific and Atlantic be opened up to commercial fishing, shrinking the protected areas to undetermined sizes. Critics see no reason to give less protection to underwater life, with Jane Lubchenco, former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), arguing, “There are plenty of other places in the ocean to fish.” Continue reading