"I feel there are some strong elements in Sen. Lugar's bill but that it falls well short of the comprehensive plan that we really need to address climate change and to move the nation into a clean energy economy."
That's the message that Ron Burke asked people to convey to Senators Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) in the next few days when he spoke to an audience of about 25 on July 21 at Bloomington's Unitarian Universalist Church.
Editor's note: Bloomington Alternative contributor Linda Greene participated in last month's U.S. Social Forum in Detroit. What follows are some of her observations from the experience.
"This is what democracy looks like!" is a familiar chant at progressive marches and rallies. The second U.S. Social Forum (USSF), held in Detroit on June 22-26, put the chant into practice. Some 15,000 activists of all colors and kinds gathered for what the USSF Web site billed as a "U.S. movement-building process."
"It is not a conference but it is a space to come up with the peoples' solutions to the economic and ecological crisis," the Web site says. "The USSF is the next most important step in our struggle to build a powerful, multi-racial, multi-sectoral, inter-generational, diverse, inclusive, internationalist movement that transforms this country and changes history."
On Thursday, July 1, 10 grassroots environmentalists met with Anne Carey, Hoosier National Forest acting supervisor, at the Hoosier's office in Bedford to convey their vision for the future of the national forest.
The activists represented Heartwood, the Sierra Club, Concerned Citizens of Crawford County, Concerned Citizens of Scott County, the Indiana Forest Alliance and Citizens Action Coalition. State Senator Richard Young, D-Milltown, was among them.
The first item on the agenda was biomass incineration.
Geoengineering to save the planet from climate change is a hot topic among climate scientists, governments, policy makers, industry and the media. But according to Canadian scientist, broadcaster and activist David Suzuki, "We know what is creating our problem with climate, and we know the best solution, which is to accept that mother nature, not governments or corporations, sets the limits and we've got to meet those limits. Geoengineering is insane."
Geoengineeering is the large-scale, intentional intervention in the ocean, atmosphere and land to make specific environmental changes to combat the human-caused effects of climate change. These interventions are planetary in scope: they affect large parts of or the whole globe.
Climate change is accelerating, threatening life on the planet. International climate negotiations are proving tepid and dilatory. Because of the looming crisis, "The attraction of quick, techno-fix solutions seem[s] to be gaining ground," says Retooling the Planet? Climate Chaos in the Geoengineering Age: A Report Prepared by the ETC Group for the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation.
On Sunday afternoon, May 23, 13 people set out together to explore the backcountry area that spans part of the Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood state forests. The "walk-in," sponsored by the Indiana Forest Alliance (IFA), was a combination pleasure trip and protest.
The backcountry, which constitutes only 3 percent of Indiana state forestland, was exempted from commercial logging 30 years ago to preserve an area in the forest that would give people a "wilderness experience." Now the Indiana Division of Forestry (DOF), Department of Natural Resources, has proposed logging the area and returning to it every 20 years to log it again.
The walk-in was an opportunity for people to weigh in on their thoughts about the campaign to protect the area.
"I'm here because I totally oppose logging in the backcountry, and in general I oppose logging on public lands," Timothy Wilson said. "Keep them all protected -- for biodiversity, carbon sequestration and just for people's emotional and spiritual needs."
The backcountry area of Morgan-Monroe/Yellowwood State Forest, designed to give visitors a wilderness experience, is at risk and needs public support.
At 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 23, hikers will hit the trails to protest the state's plan to cut down trees in the backcountry by participating in a "walk-in."
Walkers who are concerned with protecting the backcountry from logging can walk as long and as far as they want, but between 1 and 4 p.m. the Indiana Forest Alliance (IFA) will have maps, information, petitions and water at the parking lot for the Low Gap trail through the backcountry.
“You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists.” -- Abbie Hoffman
It used to be the Red Scare; now it’s the Green Scare.
In the 1940s and ‘50s, the FBI persecuted communists, Lauren Regan, an attorney and director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC), said during a May 1 presentation in Bloomington. In the ‘60s, the FBI called the Black Panther Party the No. 1 “domestic terrorist threat” in the United States.
Today, the targets are environmental and animal rights groups, said Regan, who formed the CLDC in 2003 in response to the FBI’s Operation Backfire, which culminated in 2005 with arrests and indictments of Eugene, Ore., activists from the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and Earth Liberation Front (ELF).
To further its goals, the FBI has established it’s a Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) with 92 offices nationwide, Regan said during her talk, titled “Resistance, Dissent and Government Repression: How the State Responds to Radical Social Movements.” Bloomington has one such office, on west Seventh Street.
The Leucadia Corporation, a speculative venture corporation headquartered in New York City, has a get-rich-quick-and-stay-rich-scheme targeting Rockport in Spencer County on the Ohio River. The project is called Indiana Gasification LLC and entails building a coal gasification plant, which would manufacture synthetic natural gas (syngas) out of coal and would be built just outside the county seat.
Rockport is in the southwest region of the state, across from Owensboro, Ky., 30 miles east of Evansville.
Evansville is in the center of the largest concentration of coal-fired power plants in the world, according to John Blair, president of Evansville-based Valley Watch, which, along with Citizens Action Coalition (CAC) and the Sierra Club, oppose the plant.
Spencer County is already a "toxic sacrifice zone," Blair says.
The planet contains over 23,000 nuclear weapons, and some 13 countries are on the verge of building them, according to the international activist Web site Avazz.org. Every day the risks of regional nuclear war, nuclear terrorism and catastrophic accidents escalate. The only real solution is for every country to eliminate these weapons.
The United States has used weapons containing depleted uranium in Iraq. Whether Iran possesses nuclear weapons and the materials to manufacture them is a controversial subject.
A panel discussion, "The Nuclear Cloud Over Iraq and Iran," with Cynthia Hoffman, David Keppel and Don Lichtenburg, will explore these issues at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 27, in room 2B of the Monroe County Public Library.
When it comes to health care reform, single-payer advocate Rob Stone, M.D., says, "We're still for it, and we're not done yet."
The need is undeniable. Over 46 million Americans are uninsured, and a recent study reported in the American Journal of Public Health showed that 45,000 die each year because they lack health insurance. Tens of millions are underinsured, able to afford coverage only with policies with gigantic deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.
Of U.S. health care spending, 31 percent covers administrative costs, or overhead. Medicare, in comparison, spends only 3.1 percent on overhead. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, countries with universal health care spend about 50 percent of what we spend per capita and have superior health outcomes.