Environment

Notes from the USA: September 2015

Spying ======

Documents continue to emerge from Edward Snowden, the former employee of the National Security Agency (NSA). Significant data was published in mid-August which detailed how telecommunications giant AT&T willingly gave the Agency access to literally billions of emails transmitted across the former’s domestic networks – conceivably every one. These included the headquarters of the United Nations for many years. By 2013, the NSA’s top-secret budget for this partnership… Continue reading

Notes From the USA: July Roundup

Environment

-The protests against Shell’s plan to drill in the Arctic continue; the company’s Polar Pioneer drilling rig is moored to the south in Seattle in Washington state. In the second week of June activists used their bodies, chains, and cement-filled barrels to halt operations at the port of Seattle. This action included six members of the ‘Raging Grannies’, a group of Seattle grandmothers; five were arrested as they led… Continue reading

From The Land Of Proudhon – The Battles of the ZADists

Thom Holterman writes on the emerging zadist movement and the battles it is waging with the state and capitalism.

Zadist

The French language has a new word: zadist. It comes from the abbreviation ZAD, Zone à Défendre, “Zone to defend”. Officially ZAD refers to a French legal instrument that is used to create big construction works, such as building an airport or a project for a high speed  train line. These kind of projects inevitably cause considerable damage to the environment and that’s exactly what a zadist would like to prevent by his or her opposition: defending the zone from destruction.

 

The movement is broader than environmental activism alone. This mainly concerns the projects for which huge costs are incurred for the benefit of relatively few people, and in particular, the transnational real estate and construction companies that are making huge profits. A well-known French exampleis the (new) airport to be built in the surroundings of Nantes (Notre-Dame-Des-Landes). The construction of an HSL connection and a super highway are also planned upon the construction of the airport. Such projects are against the zadists’ principles of an anti-hierarchical society  and have therefore become sites of struggle. Continue reading

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Notes From America: November

Louis Further rounds up news from the USA for the months of October and November.

 

Racism

Kalief Browder was a 16-year-old high school student from the Bronx when he was accused of stealing a Rucksack by a mistaken witness driving around in the back of a New York Police Department police patrol car. Although Browder did not take the Rucksack, indeed proved to the police at the time that he had none of the belongings of his accuser (who then changed his accusation to suggest the alleged theft was ‘attempted’), he spent nearly three years in solitary confinement at the notorious Rikers jail complex in New York City. Yes, Three years in solitary confinement! He was never convicted and maintained his innocence requesting a trial rather than accept a plea bargain for release, which would have given him a criminal record. Only at the end of September were matters successfully brought to the attention of a judge, who dismissed the case against Browder. Continue reading

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Notes From the US: October/ September

 

Education

No-one ever got taller by being measured. In schools, the only tests that help are the ones that

offer guidance on what’s next, not ‘summative’ ones that merely record children’s progress. Last month in Florida a kindergarten (5-year-old children) teacher took a stand by refusing to administer the state-mandated standardised test to her pupils. In Gainesville, Florida 59-year-old Susan Bowles explained how the FAIR assessment (computerised for the first time in 2014) is difficult to administer, unfairly tests 5-year-olds’ computer abilities, and eats up hours and hours of critical classroom time. Bowles wrote on her own FaceBook page content that was then copied elsewhere within her local and the wider educator communities:

“This assessment is given one-on-one. It is recommended that both teacher and child wear headphones during this test. Someone has forgotten there are other five year olds in our care. There is no provision from the state for money for additional staff to help with the other children in the classroom while this testing is going on. A certified teacher has to give the test. If you estimate that it takes approximately 45 minutes per child to give this test and we have 18 students, the time it takes to give this test is 13½ instructional hours. If you look at the schedule, a rough estimate would be that it requires about one full week of instructional time to test all of the children.” Continue reading

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Notes from the US: July

Louis Further rounds up the news from the US you may have missed in the month of July. 

Violence

Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan, on whose imprisonment Freedom has reported recently, was freed from Rikers Island jail in New York City in July. A short time afterwards a report by the ‘New York Times’ exposed the extent of brutal attacks by prison officers there. New York city’s health department carried out a secret study and found that abuse was widespread and routine. Over an 11-month period in 2013, ‘serious injuries’ were inflicted by staff on as many as 129 prisoners. In 77% of cases, the prisoner had a mental illness. (Rikers now houses approximately the same number of mentally ill people as all 24 psychiatric hospitals in New York state combined.) Typical seems to be one instance when jailers intervened to stop a prisoner from hanging himself. But he was forced to lie face down on the floor and punched so hard that he suffered a perforated bowel and needed emergency surgery. Another prisoner was beaten so badly that he nearly died. Continue reading

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Notes from the US: Economics, Violence and Environment

Louis Further rounds up the news from the USA you may have missed. 

 

Environment

A review published in mid-June by the Associated Press found that the Obama administration does not inspect four out of every ten new high-risk oil and gas wells. It seems that The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has been so overwhelmed by the current increase in fracking that it has not been able to keep up with the numbers of ‘regular’ oil wells still needing oversight; these include those near national forests and fragile watersheds. Even a former BLM field officer called the situation “a disaster waiting to happen”.

In mid July over a million gallons of saltwater from oil drilling operations in North Dakota leaked from a pipeline on a Native American reservation; the area covered is almost two miles. The leak by Crestwood Midstream Services has killed vegetation and may have reached a bay connected to a drinking water source for the Fort Berthold reservation. Continue reading

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Notes from the US: Racism, Politics, Violence and Economy

Monthly roundup on the state of the USA by Louis Further Continue reading