by Charles Davis
The FBI on Tuesday added four more names to the list of antiwar activists subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury as part of an investigation into whether members of the peace movement provided “material support” for terrorism.
In all, 23 people have been subpoenaed since September 24, when the FBI raided the offices and homes of prominent activists in Chicago and Minneapolis. None has been charged with a crime. Several have also refused to testify in what they say is a witch hunt aimed more at intimidating those who dare speak out against U.S. foreign policy than uncovering actual ties to terrorists.
And they’re probably right.
Thanks to a Supreme Court ruling this past June, the definition of “material support” for terrorism is now so broad as to include any sort of “advice” to a State Department-designated terrorist group, even if that advice is “stop engaging in terrorism and embrace nonviolence.” Former President Jimmy Carter and groups such as the ACLU and Human Rights Watch have spoken out against the ruling.
Because the definition is so broad, though, it provides the perfect legal basis for the government to go after those opposed to its policies abroad. And as the Bush administration ably demonstrated, there are plenty of people in government who would be all too happy to equate opposition to the U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen – just to name a few – as de facto support for terrorism.
“We are being targeted for the work we do to end U.S. fundig of the Israeli occupation, ending the war in Afghanistan and ending the occupation of Iraq,” says Maureen Murphy, editor of the news outlet The Electronic Intifada and one of those subpoenaed on Tuesday. “What is at stake for all of us is our right to dissent and organize to change harmful US foreign policy.”
Meredith Aby, another prominent antiwar activist who had her home raided by the FBI, likewise believes she is being targeted for exercising her right to free speech, not because the government actually believes she and other committed pacifists would actually support terrorist violence. She says that the questions U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald wants activists to answer – like which activists they met with abroad and what ideas did they express – proves as much. And like other activists, she said she wasn’t interested in answering.
“I’ve never killed anyone,” Aby says in an interview. “I have no blood on my hands. The blood is on the hands of the U.S. government, on the Israeli government, on the Colombian government. I’m not interested in helping kill people, and so there’s no way that I can testify at a grand jury about what people’s political ideas in places as dangerous as Colombia and Palestine.”
“We need to send a message that this has gone far enough,” she said. “We need to send a message to politicians that they will understand.”
Her advice? Tell Attorney General Eric Holder, President Obama and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald that you oppose using the law to intimidate committed, nonviolent peace activists whose only crime is exercising their right to dissent. Fitzgerald’s office can be reached at (312) 353-5300, while Obama and Holder can be contacted by signing this petition.
“At the end of the day, these men are politicians,” Aby says, “and they will make their decision in a political fashion about … how wide this investigation will go.”
- FBI Expands ‘Witch Hunt’ Against Antiwar Activists (criminaljustice.change.org)
- FBI Steps Up Intimidation of Antiwar Activists (criminaljustice.change.org)
- SEIU Chapter Denounces Raids on Activists (criminaljustice.change.org)
- New York meeting builds movement against Grand Jury, FBI repression of anti-war activists (redantliberationarmy.wordpress.com)
- Statement by Katrina Plotz, One of 14 Activists Subpoenaed (redantliberationarmy.wordpress.com)
- APNewsBreak: Activists called again to grand jury (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Peace Activists Rallying This Week to Protest ‘FBI Repression’ (criminaljustice.change.org)
We wish we could say the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the only horrific environmental disaster this year.
From red toxic sludge spewing through Hungary to floods in Pakistan and heatwaves in Russia, 2010 was a year of record-setting natural disasters — all of which were exacerbated by climate change.
As part of our Year in Review Series, here’s a sobering look back at the year’s worst environmental catastrophes.
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
In one of the year’s biggest stories — environmental or otherwise — the Gulf of Mexico was flooded with more than 185 million gallons of oil after a rig contracted to BP exploded in April.Even now, the toll of the spill on sea life, plants, Gulf industry, and the lives of the residents is still accumulating…and we still wonder if the fish is safe for consumption.
Toxic Sludge Spills into Hungary
In Ajka, Hungary, in October, a containment pond — which holds red toxic sludge, a “byproduct of bauxite refining for aluminum” — burst, sending 24 million cubic feet of the sludge over the town.The poisonous material killed all the fish in the Marcal River, destroyed villages, and could take years to clean up.
Oil Spill in Michigan
Canadian company Enbridge took the blame for a major oil spill in Michigan.The spill sent 800,000 gallons of oil into a creek connected to the Kalamazoo River (the Kalamazoo also connects to Lake Michigan), was “called the worst in Midwest history,” and reportedly “soaked” local wildlife.
Heatwaves in Russia
Record high temperatures — of up to 100 degrees F — and forest fires in Russia combined to lower a mask of smog over Moscow this summer, while a heavy drought impacted the agricultural industry.Even president Dmitry Medvedev pointed to climate change as a cause, saying, “This means that we need to change the way we work, change the methods that we used in the past.”
Floods in Pakistan
Monsoons and rising water flooded more than 1/5 of Pakistan, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,400 residents and the homelessness of 14 million others.The floods were believed to be the worst in more than 80 years — and considered a result of climate change. According to NASA, “the frequency of extremely heavy rain and floods increases as global warming increases.”
Deforestation in Haiti
In Haiti, deforestation isn’t a new problem: The country has a reported 22% drop in forests in the last two decades, and 99.2% of the country’s original forests are gone.The lack of trees can make the country more susceptible to the effects of other natural disasters — including earthquakes and mudslides.
Coral Bleaching in the Philippines
The 2009-2010 El Nino weather pattern raised the temperature of ocean water in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean — but the long-term effect of that boost on coral could be permanent.Up to 95% of the coral in that region is bleached, and it may not recover.
Copper Mine Spill in China
Hungary wasn’t the only company facing a toxic mining spill: In China, a top mining company killed almost 1,900 tons of fish.But this one didn’t appear to be accidental; the “320,000 cubic feet of ‘leaked’ waste water actually flowed from a sludge point to the TIng river through an ‘illegally built passage’,” according to investigators.
- 2010: The Year in Environmental Disasters (Slideshow) (treehugger.com)
- The Most Popular and Memorable Stories of 2010 (treehugger.com)
- Top 10 environmental stories of 2010. (news.mongabay.com)
- Toxic Sludge in Hungary Burns Victims ‘To the Bone’ [Disasters] (gawker.com)
- Elizabeth Rosenthal: Hungary’s Red Sludge Spill: The Media and the Eco-Disaster (yubanet.com)
- The BP Oil Spill’s Long-Term Threat to Bluefin Tuna (dailyfinance.com)
- Hungary’s river of death, as seen from space [Disaster] (io9.com)
- Toxic Spill in Hungary Could Take One Year to Clean Up [Video] (gawker.com)
- Oil field brine proposed to treat Hungary’s red sludge spill (gizmag.com)
- US joins deluge of lawsuits over oil spill (bbc.co.uk)
- The Other Oil Spill: Michigan Gets a Taste [Oil Spill] (gawker.com)
- Chevy Volt Recycles Gulf Oil Spill for Car Parts (cleantechnica.com)
- The Earth in 2010 (scientificamerican.com)
- Chemical Safety Board: Keep Companies Away From BP Oil Spill Evidence (huffingtonpost.com)
- The Consequences of the Oil Spill (travelinsurance.org)
- Oil Spill: U.S. Sues BP and Others for Deepwater Horizon Disaster (ecoworld.com)
- US sues BP for ‘violations of safety’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Greenpeace live | Greenpeace USA (f33dyourhead.wordpress.com)
- BP oil spill: ‘mass hysteria on a par with the Dutch tulip bubble’ (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
- White House: No New Oil Drilling In Eastern Gulf Of Mexico For Next 7 Years (huffingtonpost.com)
by Rob Hotakainen (Full article at above link)
The U.S. Navy prepares to expand its operations in its Northwest Training Range Complex, which stretches from the coastline of Washington state to northern California.
The proposal, which has already been approved by the Obama administration, calls for increased sailor training and weapons testing on the site. It also includes the development of an underwater training minefield for submarines.
“We are not even permitted to kill even one marine mammal. … What people don’t seem to understand is we share the environment with everybody,” said Sheila Murray, a Navy spokeswoman. “It’s our environment, too. Of course we want to take care of it. The Navy goes to great lengths to protect the marine environment.”
Opponents fear that missile and sonar testing and the dumping of depleted uranium could hurt the whales.
In a letter to the Navy, the Natural Resources Defense Council said the plan “would pose significant risk to whales, fish and other wildlife.” And the council said the plan would release a variety of hazardous materials into coastal waters, including “thousands of rounds of spent ammunition and unexploded ordnance containing chromium, chromium compounds, depleted uranium” and more.
The NRDC also said the mid-frequency sonar the Navy uses to detect submarines and underwater objects interferes with whales’ ability to navigate and communicate, and that the chronic noise can disrupt whales’ brain development and depress reproductive rates.
The Supreme Court ruled two years ago that the Navy could use sonar in training exercises off the Southern California coast without heeding restrictions imposed by a lower court to protect whales and dolphins. The Navy voluntarily adopted some protective measures.
He said the Orca Network will try to monitor how the whales fare, difficult as it might be.
- Expansion of Navy training site puts Orcas in danger, critics say (theolympian.com)
- Orca advocates, researchers oppose dart tagging of Southern Residents; support expanded use of hydrophones and observation (pnwlocalnews.com)
- Satellite tagging of Puget Sound orcas proposed (thenewstribune.com)
- Puget Sound orcas: What they eat, and why it matters (westseattleblog.com)
- Coast Guard to use flashbangs in Puget Sound (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
Obama’s administration has failed to ensure the survival of polar bears by not listing the animals as endangered.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service, responding to a legal suit, agreed Wednesday that climate change posed “serious threats” to the polar bears by melting their Arctic habitat in the northernmost state of Alaska.
But the service said the threat was “in the foreseeable future” and that polar bears were not “in danger of extinction.” A listing as endangered would likely lead to federal protection of areas rich in oil and gas.
The Obama administration has pledged to become more active in fighting climate change, and it incurred the wrath of the oil industry on Thursday by announcing it would regulate greenhouse gas emissions by power plants.
Last month, the Fish and Wildlife Service set aside 187,000 square miles (484,000 square kilometers) off Alaska’s northern shore as a bear habitat, which means any project that could impact the animals’ way of life must undergo careful review.
The northern polar cap has shrunk between 15 and 20 percent over the last 30 years. But a recent study in the British journal Nature said that the melting was not inevitable and could be reversed.
- Obama gives ‘lump of coal’ to polar bears: activists (physorg.com)
- US administration explains why polar bears are ‘threatened’, not ‘endangered’ (blogs.nature.com)
- State of Alaska to sue over polar bear protection (thenewstribune.com)
- New Obama Offshore Oil Plan Sacrifices Polar Bear Habitat (greenreview.blogspot.com)
- Obama WH says polar bears not endangered (hotair.com)
- Alaska vs. Polar Bears: State Sues Agency For Protecting Endangered Species (huffingtonpost.com)
- Obama Administration Defends Bush Polar Bear Position (volokh.com)
- Why won’t the Obama say that polar bears are endangered and thus make it possible to use the Endangered Species Act to deal with global warming? (althouse.blogspot.com)
- W.H.: Polar bears not ‘endangered’ (politico.com)
- Politics of polar-bear protection heating up (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Polar bears lose US endanger bid (bbc.co.uk)
- Judge may allow new polar bear ruling (politico.com)
Just for fun on Christmas. This dog knew exactly what he wanted and got it!!
You can’t make this stuff up!