27December2014

Politics and Community

Politics and Community

Here you will find a broad range of news articles with a focus on community and political content.

According to a joint press release from a group of U.S. Representatives, dated Feb. 29, 2012:
Today, a leading group of U.S. Representatives who support the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta voted against the passage of H.R. 1837, the so-called Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act. As written, the legislation would divert additional water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta to south-of-Delta water users, running counter to established economic thought, environmental policies and leading scientific research.  The legislation passed the House by a vote of 246-175, and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

The lawmakers responded today after the vote:
 
“The fact that this legislation passed the House shows that some Representatives are more concerned with satisfying well-funded south-of-Delta water contractors than protecting state laws and finding science-based solutions to California’s water challenges,” said Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-1). “This bill puts politics ahead of established science, guts environmental protections and kills local jobs. The Senate should reject it, and solutions to California’s water challenges should be based on sound science so that wildlife is protected, and our fishers, farmers, families and businesses that depend on the Delta for their livelihoods are not harmed.”

“This bill would only help a few well-connected water agencies, to the detriment of everyone else in California,” Rep. George Miller (CA-7) said of the legislation. “It is a selfish and extreme approach that would end all productive efforts to solve water problems in California. If this bill were ever enacted, it would unravel legal settlements, defy Supreme Court precedent, and pose a serious threat to water management all across the West. HR 1837 is bad for the Bay, bad for the Delta, bad for California’s environment, and bad for our economic future. By asking Congress to override state water law – against the state’s wishes -- and by ending the collaborative work that’s taking place in California, the special interests and water exporters who are supporting this bill are playing a very dangerous game.”

“This bill is a blatant attempt to steal water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  It would undermine existing state and federal laws and forever harm the millions of people who live from Sacramento to Stockton to Brentwood in the Delta region.  This bill was crafted without any input from the Delta communities, farmers, and businesses that will be devastated by its enactment, and it should not move forward.  It is a bad bill that robs Peter to pay Paul.  To steal from one community for the benefit of another, while creating a worse problem for everyone, is completely shortsighted and unacceptable.  I will continue to stand up for the farmers, families, and small business owners who rely upon a healthy San Joaquin Delta for their livelihoods.  My colleagues who pushed this bad piece of legislation forward will have to answer for playing games with the precious water supplies in California,” said Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA-11).

“In Northern California, we have balanced our watershed to the benefit of our cities, farms, and habitat. However, this legislation will throw our work out the window, along with the ability of California to make its own decisions on its water resources. H.R. 1837 is an unprecedented and unacceptable water grab, and California cannot afford for it to pass – the stakes are simply too high,” said Rep. Doris Matsui (CA-5).

“This is not the time to reignite the California water wars of the past. This is not the time to pit Californians against each other,” said Rep. John Garamendi (CA-10). “This is the time to focus on meeting the coequal goals of water supply and ecosystem protection. We must focus on responsible, science-based water management, with conservation, storage and recycling playing a prominent role. That is the solution to California’s water needs. H.R .1837 takes us in the opposite direction.”
 
"On leap day, House Republicans are telling California and other states who want to manage their own water to take a flying leap. This bill is the ultimate in Washington power grabs, telling the states that we don't trust you to manage your own water for your people and your farmers," said Ed Markey (MA-7), Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee.
 

According to a press release from Congressman Mike Thompson's Office, dated Feb. 16, 2012:
Representatives Mike Thompson (CA-1) and Lynn Woolsey (CA-6) today introduced an amendment to ban drilling on of California’s North Coast. H.R. 3408, the Protecting Investment in Oil Shale the Next Generation of Environmental, Energy, and Resource Security Act would automatically open the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, Alaska’s Bristol Bay, Southern California, and the Virginia coast for oil and gas leasing. The bill could also potentially open up California’s North Coast to drilling – even if the state objects to offshore drilling in the region.
 
“Oil drilling is an important component of our energy solution, but we should only drill where it’s appropriate – and that means no drilling off the North Coast,” said Thompson. “The North Coast is one of the most productive ecosystems in the world, supporting salmon, Dungeness crab, rockfish, sole, and urchin populations. It is one of four major upwellings in all the world’s oceans, allowing nutrient-rich water to rise supporting an abundance of marine life. Thompson continued, “If an oil spill were to occur in this area, not only would the economic damage to businesses and tourism be staggering, the rocky shores and rough seas would make a cleanup impossible. This amendment should be passed, and Congress must affirm that although oil is a part of our energy solution, we will not be opening up the North Coast for drilling.”
 
“The waters off California’s North Coast are some of the most abundant and exquisitely beautiful on the face of the earth,” said Woolsey.  “Our commercial fishing industry depends on this thriving marine ecosystem, as do our research scientists.  They are critical to our local economy, supporting thousands and thousands of tourism-related jobs.  Who would visit the North Coast to look at an oil derrick?  We must block any attempt to open these waters to drilling.” In a decision to “trust but verify,” Thompson and Woolsey introduced an amendment clarifying that the North Coast may not be opened for drilling under H.R. 3408. Passing the amendment will affirm that there would not be North Coast drilling in the future.
 
According to a 2009 Energy Information Administration report, opening up waters that are currently closed to drilling would only yield an enough oil to reduce gas prices by no more than 3 cents a gallon – in 2030. In Northern California, the potential economic impact of the region’s oil supply is even smaller: if all the recoverable reserves of Northern California’s Outer Continental Shelf were tapped, they would provide enough oil to fuel the U.S. for only 100 days.
 
Thompson and Woolsey have been a longtime opponent of efforts to open drilling off the coast of Northern California. In May he introduced a similar amendment to H.R. 231, the Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act that would affirm the North Coast would not be opened to drilling.  In January, he reintroduced legislation to ban drilling off the coast of Del Norte, Humboldt, and Mendocino Counties. Woolsey is the author H.R. 192, co-sponsored by Thompson and 53 others and widely supported in the local community, which would permanently protect the Sonoma Coast from oil and gas exploration by more than doubling the size of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries.
 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Occupy the world-a movement in progress

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Beginning with the revolutionary waive of demonstrations and protests in the Middle East, dubbed the Arab Spring,  (click here to see an interactive timeline of the Arab Spring Protests from the Guardian On-line) and Anti-austerity Protests world wide, "Occupy" Movements are popping up all over the globe like mushrooms after a rain. In the U.S. the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Movement officially began on September 17, 2011 in New York City's Zuccotti Park in the Wall Street financial district. 
 
According to the Vancouver Courier on-line, OWS  began in part from: “ ...the work of the Vancouver-based Adbusters Media Foundation, an anti-consumerist group best known for its award-winning, advertisement-free magazine, Adbusters.”  Reflecting the frustration by an ever increasing disparity in the distribution of wealth and handling of the recent global financial crisis, the magazine urged readers to take to the streets to demand change. In the Vancouver Courier article, Adbusters senior editor Micah White was quoted as saying, “We basically floated the idea in mid July into our [email list] and it was spontaneously taken up by all the people of the world. It just kind of snowballed from there. We came up with the idea but independent activists just made it their own. They set up an organizing website, starting holding weekly meetings and these are the people who are now pulling it off. They made it their own and ran with it.”
 
News about these movements is exploding while memes like " We are the 99%" are being created and spreading as the basic core issues of drastic inequity in wealth, unemployment and declining standards of living resonate with citizens of all countries and members of all communities. Watching this develop is like watching in timelapse the exponential growth of a tropical garden and serves as a sociological laboratory as the various movements develop and spread.
 
One of the criticisms of the OWS movement in the mainstream media is that it has no leaders, no demands and no program for changing things (see N.Y. Times-sunday Review, Nov. 12, 2011). For example, in a CNN.com article, Ehab Zahriyeh states, "The Occupy movement has clear frustrations with corporate greed, unregulated banks and the housing crisis. Protesters are disappointed in President Obama and his administration for bailing out the banks and not the people. They have dozens of other grievances and continue to debate strategy and priority. But these demands do not call for clear solutions. Unlike Egypt, where removing a decades-long presidency was a major success, in the United States, there aren't any high-profile figures to remove that will satisfy the protesters, not even temporarily."  However, others suggest that this is not the case and while the movement is in it's early gestation stage there are clear articulations of the movement's grievances, demands and proposals for change - See the links below.
 
Grievances and Demands:
Leadership:
Cooperation and Proposals:
News About:
Local Coverage of Occupied Movements:
  • Local Community Member, Lauren Oliver traveled with veteran radio reporter Maia Chong to various Occupy movements.  Use the player below to hear a report from the Occupy San Francisco site on Nov. 12, 2011:
  • KMUD Community Journalist, Kerry Reynolds, visited Occupy Wall Street (OWS) during the final days of the nearly 2-month encampment of Zuccotti Park (AKA Liberty Square) and she produced this report, which includes the concept of "Working Groups" within the OWS Movement. The encampment was evicted on November 15th, 2011.  Use the player below to hear or download the report.

  • November 17th, 2011, was a 'Day of Action' on Wall Street, when occupiers and thousands of supporters took to the streets in NYC's financial district and all around Manhattan to mark two-months since the start of the Liberty Square Occupation. Over 250 were arrested.   Use the player below to hear or download the report by KMUD Community Journalist, Kerry Reynolds.

 

 
As the movement develops, experiments with "Horizontal Decision Making", "Direct Democracy", and work around techniques like the "Human Microphone" offer new ideas to audiences and participants world-wide.
 
Consensus (Direct Democracy @ Occupy Wall Street)
 
 
According to a joint press release from the Offices of several Congressional represetatives, dated Nov. 4, 2011
Last week, the Department of the Interior announced a brief window for public comment on a controversial Memorandum of Agreement relating to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).  This period for public comment followed the ongoing efforts of five Northern California Members of Congress who have repeatedly called on the Interior Department to rescind the document, noting that it was developed behind closed doors and that it gives water export agencies south of the Delta and in Southern California unprecedented influence over an important public process concerning California’s precious fresh water supplies.
 
U.S. Reps. George Miller (CA-7), Mike Thompson (CA-1), Doris Matsui (CA-5), Jerry McNerney (CA-11) and John Garamendi (CA-10) submitted comment to the Department of the Interior today, noting their disappointment in the limited nature of the comment period. The Members reiterated that Interior must retract its support for the document and allow a minimum of 45 days for public comment, and that the process be opened up to include other key stakeholders left out of the discussions, including Bay Area, Delta and coastal communities, farmers, businesses, and fishermen. The lawmakers recently held a series of meetings with Interior Department and California officials to express their concerns about the Memorandum of Agreement that the Department signed with water export agencies, an agreement that was developed and signed without input from Bay-Delta stakeholders.   They followed those meetings with a letter to Secretary Ken Salazar to express their objections to the current BDCP.  The period of public comment came as a result of the Members’ advocacy.  However, the white paper issued by Interior and limited period for public comment did not satisfy the Members’ concerns.
 
An excerpt from the letter to Secretary Ken Salazar states,  “Our concerns remain largely unaddressed.  Despite the contention that Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) are typically applicant-driven processes and that significant involvement of the export contractors is “appropriate and fully consistent” with existing practices, it is clear that state and federal agencies are failing to consider the specific circumstances surrounding the BDCP.”
 

 

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