Thursday, March 29, 2007

Wind Energy in the Third World

It has just been announced that Energias de Portugal (EDP) is buying Horizon Wind Energy from Goldman Sachs (for $2.15 billion, twice what Goldman Sachs paid for it less than 2 years ago). This follows the purchase of Community Energy and PPM Energy (the latter through its purchase of Scottish Power) by Spanish energy giant Iberdrola.

Other foreign companies active in U.S. wind energy development include Ireland's Airtricity, Spain's Gamesa and Naturener, Australia's Babcock & Brown, Electricité de France (via Enxco), Nedpower of The Netherlands, Shell, BP, and the various UPC Wind companies funded by European investors through Italian parent UPC Group.

Beyond the fact that prospects for wind energy expansion are drying up in Europe while subsidies in the U.S. can cover up to 75% of the cost of erecting a wind energy facility, might there be another reason for so much foreign investment in wind energy?

Spain's Iberdrola is also erecting wind turbines in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Oaxaca. Spanish regulators have ruled that the electricity produced there can be applied towards Spain's Kyoto (and now E.U.) obligations. That's because Mexico is exempt from the Kyoto accord.

The U.S. has not signed on to the Kyoto accord and has not established similar requirements. As in Mexico, might the foreign owners of wind energy facilities in the U.S. be intending to claim the "renewable energy credits" for their own countries?

Thus, all that industrialization of rural and wild landscapes, the fragmentation and degradation of natural habitat, the destruction of wildlife, and the wrecking of people's peaceful enjoyment of their homes would not even serve to meet the goals of expanded renewable energy established in many states.

This ineffective tokenism is also seen in the misdirected effort of renewable portfolio standards. The goal, as with the Kyoto accord, is to reduce emissions from fossil fuels. But the requirement is only to add non-carbon sources of electricity (and ignoring transport, heating, and industry uses of fossil fuels).

If the goal is indeed to reduce emissions, then that should be the requirement.

Spain will not be reducing its carbon emissions by building giant turbines in Mexico. Yet they will nonetheless be credited for doing so, based only on the production from those turbines without any proof of a corresponding reduction of fossil fuels even in Mexico, let alone in Spain.

It appears that much of the U.S. has become a third-world country as well, ripe for exploitation by global capitalists as well as our own "developers."

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, Vermont, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, ecoanarchism, human rights

Oil is for transport and heating, not electricity

Farnham Woods comments on an idiotic article in yesterday's Salon:

Only about 3% of the electricity in the U.S. is generated from oil, and that's mostly from sludge left over after refining.

Mandelstam keeps talking about the newness of wind on the grid but also notes that Europe has 15 years of experience with it. That experience is notably missing from this article. Europe is still using fossil fuels at the same rate as ever. Germany, the world's leader in wind capacity, has 26 new coal plants planned. Denmark, the per-capita leader, hasn't put up a new turbine since 2004. In Spain, with the third largest wind plant, energy giant Iberdrola is moving much of its investment to North America. Wind has proven to be a dead end. It has proven to be an expensive, destructive boondoggle.

Also missing from this article is any hint that opposition is not limited to the rich protecting their ocean views. In fact, there are hundreds of opposition groups around the world, many of them in poor rural communities, protecting the only thing of value they have -- peace and quiet -- from sprawling industrial plants. Opposition includes indigenous communities in Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, and India -- all fighting not a "green alternative" but the same predatory developers they have always had to fight.

Finally, the claim that birds are not threatened by "modern" turbines is belied by the continuing fact of their deaths. The Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society in New York recently acquired the draft report of the first-year study of bird and bat deaths at the 120-turbine facility in Lewis County. The company-sponsored survey estimated that at least 3,000 to 6,000 birds and bats were killed by the turbines last year. The rpm of the turbine blades is indeed lower, but they now sweep a vertical area of 1 to 2 acres with tip speeds of 150-200 mph. And the much higher towers put them into the paths of many more migrating birds.

Nobody questions the obvious problems with coal. But no matter how many giant wind turbines we build, it will unfortunately not reduce our use of coal one lump.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, human rights

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Against the Giants in Oaxaca

Al Giordano wrote in the Feb. 9, 2006, Narco News:

This is not about windmills, Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos thundered on Monday morning across this windswept plain. "It is about giants."

The greedy grab for the Isthmus of Tehuantepec -- the narrowest stretch of land in Mexico -- is a mega-project by Capital and State that does not stop at windmills. It also includes new highways and oil pipelines connecting the ports on both oceans, an expanded hydroelectric dam in Jalapa del Marques along the way, tourist Meccas to replace small fishing communities between Salina Cruz and Huatulco and a new zone for maquiladoras -- those cheap-labor mills that generate power not from wind but from human muscle and bone along the US-Mexican border -- that will exploit the poverty of the workers that the mega-developments displace from their lands and the natural resources they cultivate.

And so it is to this breezy plain that Zapatista "Delegate Zero" came on Monday morning to harness the wind that only human hands, and not machines, can tap: that of rebellion. "You are not alone," he told yet more communities of fighting (read: still human) people throughout the Isthmus. In La Venta's town square he said, "We will fight with you against these windmills."

Nancy Davies wrote on Mar. 28:

... here's the article I've been predicting: "Teachers and APPO and communal land owners announce the boycott of Venta II," accompanied in action by other organizations including The Front of the People of the Isthmus in Defense of the Land. President Felipe Calderon and Governor Ulises Ruiz are inaugurating the construction of the new wind farm to generate electricity, owned by a Spanish transnational, on Wednesday March 28 (see the video newsreel, The Windmills of Capitalism). About two hundred hectares of communal land and about nine sub-municipalities of Juchitán are in dispute. The wind farm is seen as a basic part of the development of the Plan Puebla Panama, and infringes on the autonomy of the indigenous residents of the area. The area is protected, according to Noticias, by a circle of military soldiers.

Ninety-eight wind generators already operate with a supposed capacity of 83.3 megawatts. In the second stage the transnational company, Iberdrola, has invested $100 million. The World Bank has recently loaned $20 million for the development of La Venta III, which confirms that regardless of who's protesting, the project will go ahead.

On March 3 three-hundred-and-sixty men from the Federal Preventative Police, traveling in vehicles with dark windows and carrying high power weapons, evicted the communal land owners from the neighborhood Tres de Abril located within the polygon of Venta II, because they were an "obstacle to the project." Many believe that the outcry against the wind generators has more to do with the offensively low rental and a voice for the people whose land has been "rented" for thirty years. The rental was reportedly carried out by agents who ignored the community assembly process and were in turn allegedly paid off handsomely by the government and/or Iberdrola.

And George Salzman wrote on Mar. 25:

"Harvard contributes to reconstructing Oaxaca" is the grand headline splashed across the Sunday, March 25, 2007 front page of Noticias, the major daily newspaper published in Oaxaca City. When I saw that announcement this morning I thought, "Oh, my God! (Never mind that I'm an atheist.) That's both good news and bad news."

The good news is that the popular struggle in Oaxaca is serious enough that it is being seen by those pre-eminent intellectual guardians of global capitalism as a potential threat to the status quo. The bad news is that Harvard University, always in the service of the super-rich, and therefore in step with (or ahead of) U.S. government plans and actions, is preparing to put its gloved but dirtied hands to work for the PAN/PRI government of Felipe Calderon and the local PRI governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. The message is clear. It's going to take more than sheer military suppression to crush the popular revolution. But it must be crushed, in the interest of global capitalism, and therefore the 'intellectual power' of Harvard University will be brought to bear in addition to the military state of siege already put in place in the city. What we can be certain of is that Harvard's intellectual prowess will not be used to uncover the fates of the people disappeared and still unaccounted for by the Federal and State armed agents or to assist in the struggle for justice and dignity for the people of Oaxaca.

Also see the press releases posted here from the Union of Indigenous Communities of the Northern Zone of the Isthmus.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, human rights

Are We Politicians or Citizens?

From Howard Zinn, writing in the May 2007 Progressive:

When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

End the War by Continuing the War

Report by the World Socialist Web Site (click the title of this post for complete article):

The bill is a labored attempt by the Democratic leadership to pose as opponents of the Iraq war, while in practice ensuring its continuation. The vote to authorize war funding flies in the face of the will of the electorate, which expressed its desire to end the war and its opposition to the policies of the Bush administration in last November’s congressional elections, overturning Republican control in both houses of Congress. ...

As New York Senator Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, made clear in an interview with the New York Times last week, if elected she would keep a large force of American troops in Iraq indefinitely to secure “remaining vital national security interests” there. She elaborated on these “national security interests” by noting that Iraq is “right in the heart of the oil region.”

Similarly, the House Democrats’ bill upholds the war aims of US imperialism by listing as one of the benchmarks the passage of an oil law that will open up Iraq’s vast reserves to exploitation by US energy conglomerates. ...

In the weeks leading up to Friday’s vote on the floor of the House, the White House and congressional Republicans continually called the Democrats’ bluff, exposing their antiwar pretenses by challenging them to cut off war funding. This culminated last week in the passage, with overwhelming Democratic support, of a Republican-sponsored nonbinding Senate resolution vowing to never cut funds for “troops in the field.” ...

As Pelosi and her subordinates scrambled to assemble the necessary 218 votes to secure passage, groups on the so-called liberal wing of the party declared their support, including the Congressional Black Caucus and MoveOn.org.

The critical role was played by the misnamed “Out of Iraq Caucus” of House Democrats. This group of some 70 congressmen has postured as the most militant critics of the war. Their key leaders, such as Lynn Woolsey and Maxine Waters, both of California, have been paraded before antiwar demonstrators by protest organizers as living proof that the Democratic Party can be pressured to end the war.

Pelosi dealt with them through a combination of threats and inducements. The house speaker reportedly warned California Rep. Barbara Lee, another leader of the Out of Iraq Caucus, that she would be stripped of her post on the powerful House Appropriations Committee if she sought to block passage of the bill.

On Thursday, Lee, Woolsey, Waters and company insured passage of the bill at a closed-door session with Pelosi. The Washington Post reported on Friday:

“As debate began on the bill yesterday, members of the antiwar caucus and party leaders held a backroom meeting in which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a final plea to the group, asking it to deliver at least four votes when the roll is called. The members promised ten.” ...

The legislative charade mounted by the Democratic Party has nothing to do with ending the war in Iraq. There are, in fact, no principled differences between the Democrats and Bush when it comes to the imperialist aims of the war. Both parties, the Democrats no less than the Republicans, serve the corporate interests—the oil conglomerates, the Wall Street banks, and the American financial oligarchy as a whole—that seek through military violence to establish US control of the resources and markets of the world.

The differences between those within the political establishment who favor continued escalation of the war and those who seek to continue the colonial occupation with reduced US troops are purely tactical. They have to do with the best means of salvaging the US debacle in Iraq by killing and brutalizing more Iraqis, in order to secure US control of the Middle East. ...

In this critical task for the American ruling elite, forces like the Out of Iraq Caucus and their “left” allies in the protest movement play a crucial role. They serve not to end the war, but to provide a right-wing, pro-war party with a left-wing, antiwar gloss, the better to block the emergence of an independent movement of working people against war, repression and social inequality.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Wind on grid does not displace other sources

Back to the fraud of industrial wind, a correspondent writes:

In most cases, when the wind energy is a small fraction (less than 5%) of the load, the grid probably does not throttle back other power sources, letting the line voltage go up within safe bounds. This means that when windmills suddenly drop off the grid like dominoes, which they are wont to do, the grid will not have to scramble to avoid a brownout.

In this case, there is no fuel saved, more power is used by customers due to the higher voltage, and the utility happily charges the customers. Since many electrical devices simply waste the extra energy, that energy is wasted to a great extent.

If a large fraction of the grid power is from wind, the situation is very unstable, so unless there is adequate water power to react quickly, it is necessary to have fossil fuel generation "spinning" in reserve to compensate for the sudden domino failure characteristics of windmills. Naturally this wastes considerable energy, so the wind energy never really displaces fossil fuel consumption in an adequate manner to be justified.

Finally it should be noted that all fossil fuel generation equipment has an optimal range of operating efficiency, usually near full load. If they have to reduce output, this generally means more coal, gas, or oil per kWh is consumed, thus there is no one-to-one relationship with any savings of fossil fuel from the use of windmills. ...

The bottom line is, attaching windmills to the grid is simply foolish. If you were an Inuit living in a remote part of Alaska, not connected to the grid, and you are used to being frequently without power, perhaps they would make sense to you . . . if they were subsidized.

War Is Peace

Ron Paul, Libertarian Republican from Texas, puts the Democrats to shame in explaining his intention to vote against the bill to "end the war by fully funding it for another year":
Only with the complicity of Congress have we become a nation of pre-emptive war, secret military tribunals, torture, rejection of habeas corpus, warrantless searches, undue government secrecy, extraordinary renditions, and uncontrollable spying on the American people. The greatest danger we face is ourselves: what we are doing in the name of providing security for a people made fearful by distortions of facts. Fighting over there has nothing to do with preserving freedoms here at home. More likely the opposite is true.
Meanwhile, Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, and other Democrats who intend to vote against the bill are -- bizarrely -- working to help pass it. And Democrat Jim McGovern is typical, saying, "I want this war ended today. If I thought it would help this war ending sooner by voting against the bill, I would vote against it in a heartbeat." But voting for the bill is to vote for the war's continuation, you jerk. The Democrats, elected to power because their nation -- not to mention Iraq -- is sick and tired of the lies and futility of this escapade, should heed the words of John Lewis (thanks to Vermont Snarky Boy for the quote):
Tonight, I must make it plain and clear, that as a human being, as a citizen of the world, as a citizen of America, as a member of Congress, and as an individual committed to a world at peace with itself, I will not and cannot vote for another dollar or another dime to support this war.
Vermonters: our own Peter Welch, after campaigning with a strong anti-war platform -- the only thing that distinguished him from his Republican opponent -- will be voting "aye" along with his leaders. Tell him how sorry you are that he won't be re-elected in 2008.

Note, the Senate version of this war bill does not have the sham "end date," only a nonbinding recommendation. Have Pelosi and Reid orchestrated all this so that reconciliation will fail and the Democrats will then propose a true bill to end the funding? They could point to the fact that Republicans didn't support the "compromise," which she ensured by loading the bill with so much pork to give Republicans a principled reason to oppose it. A stupid game, and an unlikely scenario. As Sharon Smith concludes in Counterpunch:
The Democrats, like the Republicans, are biding time in Iraq, in the hopes of consolidating a long-term U.S. military presence there -- while leaving open the option of attacking Iran as a bargaining chip. Clinton stated recently, "No option can be taken off the table" against Iran's alleged nuclear threat, while presidential rivals John Edwards and Obama echoed, "All options on the table."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Hillary Clinton campaigning to out-stupid Bush

Sharon Smith reports in today's Counterpunch:
After pledging to work toward energy independence at a March 18 mid-Manhattan fundraiser, Clinton told an audience laden with Wall St. financiers that each time she switches off a light bulb in her own home, she mutters, "'Take that, Iran,' and 'Take that, Venezuela.' We should not be sending our money to people who are not going to support our values."
1. The U.S. uses almost no oil to generate electricity, and the little that is used is the sludge left over from refining.

2. The U.S. does not get any oil from Iran.

3. If a country sells us their oil, they are very effectively supporting "our values," since we could not function without it.

4. Our second largest supplier of oil, Saudi Arabia, responded to the 1979 Iranian revolution by funding the extremist Sunni madrasas in Pakistan that bred the Taliban and its support of Al Qaeda. Yet by Clinton's implications, Saudi Arabia -- a backwards repressive monarchy -- supports "our values." Which must mean only that they don't care when we bomb anybody that doesn't jump when the U.S. president says "jump." Or it could be that a backwards repressive monarchy is our ideal as well -- we certainly seem to be heading down that toilet. The U.S. sells them our best bombers and keeps an aircraft carrier or two nearby to help them "support our values." (Our largest oil supplier is Canada. Third is Nigeria, where our values have supported the descent of that country from prosperity to a basket case of inequity and civil unrest.)

5. The values that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela represents are those of democracy -- speaking truth to power, daring to assert one's own voice as equal to that of the president of the United States, daring to assert the value of poor people and non-Europeans as equal to that of the self-anointed self-protective "elites." Those are values that Hilary Clinton -- along with almost everyone in the U.S. -- both lacks and fears. She may be more stupidly cravenly infantile even than George W. Bush himself.

Myth and the Audacity of Reality

Sam Smith has written another superb essay at Progressive Review, excerpted below. Click on the title of this post to read the complete original.

Living as we do in what seems at times a second Middle Ages -- complete with Christian crusades against Islam -- we inevitably find our struggles centered on myths rather than on facts and competing philosophies. For the past quarter century -- ever since we elected the our first fully fictional president, Ronald Reagan, we have bounced from legend to legend increasingly indifferent to their effects or costs until we find ourselves today engaged in a war that we can't afford, nobody wants and nobody knows how to end.

At first, it just seemed like another problem with Republicans, but with the rise of the Vichy Democrats under Bill Clinton, it became clear that our absorption with fantasy had become not only bipartisan but omnicultural. Neither politician nor media, intellectual nor ordinary citizen, appeared all that interested in reality any more. ...

It is hard for reality to hold its own in such an environment and as Americans increasingly became preoccupied with selling and speculating, our collective psyches became ever more removed from substance and our language, our minds and our souls ever more trapped in the syntax, style and morals of the pitch.

It is small wonder that our politics has followed suit. Or that the media has lost interest in lowly facts, preferring instead to deconstruct propaganda, images, semiotics and efforts to manipulate the same -- becoming critics of spin rather than as narrators of reality. ...

... Clinton didn't really campaign for the presidency; he auditioned for it. He proved to the producers and directors that he could play the part.

This shift was in some ways even more dramatic than that which accompanied Reagan. After all, for the better part of a century, the Republicans had traditionally been mired in self-serving myths and Reagan merely took them to a new level. The Democrats and those to their left had been responsible for nearly all the political progress that America had enjoyed. With Clinton that all changed. Neither party was interested in real change any longer. The two parties now got both their money and their politics from the same sources.

And so it has been ever since. No more Jimmy Carter or Michael Dukakis to foul things up. When a wild card like Howard Dean appears, you dump him like Simon Cowell would, complaining of his poor stage presence one lone night in Iowa. If a rejected former auditioner, John Edwards, decides to go his own way, you just turn off the mikes and the lights of the campaign -- aka news coverage -- and reduce the election to the acceptables. A Gene McCarthy–like candidate can't even get off the ground.

Now, instead, we are offered the choice in the GOP of competing heroes -- 9/11 vs. Vietnam -- and in the Democratic Party of competing sociological icons -- woman vs. black. In fact, Giuliani was no hero in 9/11, John McCain has learned little from being one in Vietnam, Hillary Clinton offers nothing to the waitress or the stay-at-home grandmother raising her daughter's kids, and Barack Obama has no plan for the millions of young blacks and latinos deserted for decades by both parties. None among them has a way out of Iraq or misbegotten empire nor a way towards economic decency and social justice. But it doesn't matter, for we are not choosing a president but selecting a myth.

This poses a problem for a journalist. Journalists are supposed to either ignore or expose myth and help the reader find the way back to reality. But once political positions have more in common with evangelical fundamentalism into which one is born again than with philosophical differences that demand logical arguments and defenses, skepticism and exposure become the political equivalent of heresy and invite excommunication.

Although I had written critically of every president since Lyndon Johnson, it wasn't until the Clinton years that I was told -- directly and by inference -- that this was no longer permissible. The Clintons had helped create this climate by inventing the notion that to criticize them made you into a "hater" -- sort of like a Nazi or member of the KKK. ...

The web has contributed to this aura by creating places that are more congregations than sites, internet cathedrals where people go for confirmation rather than information, and where the holy book is the game plan of one candidate or another.

To follow instead where the story leads one, to face the imperfectabilities of the world, to engage in the audacity of reality is just too uncomfortable for many these days.

For journalists, at least, it wasn't always like that. Here, for example, is an except of HL Mencken's coverage of the 1920 convention:

"No one but an idiot could argue seriously that either candidate is a first-rate man, or even a creditable specimen of second-rate man. Any State in the Union, at least above the Potomac, could produce a thousand men quite as good, and many States could produce a thousand a great deal better. Harding, intellectually, seems to be merely a benign blank -- a decent, harmless, laborious hollow-headed mediocrity. . . Cox is quicker of wit, but a good deal less honest. He belongs to the cunning type; there is a touch of the shyster in him. His chicaneries in the matter of prohibition, both during the convention and since, show the kink in his mind. He is willing to do anything to cadge votes, and he includes in that anything the ready sacrifices of his good faith, of the national welfare, and of the hopes and confidence of those who honestly support him. Neither candidate reveals the slightest dignity of conviction. Neither cares a hoot for any discernible principle. Neither, in any intelligible sense, is a man of honor." ...

... Try to think of a single contemporary establishment newspaper that would publish HL Mencken today and you can sense the problem.

It's much like the Iraq war. No matter how bad or stupid it is, we must still support the troops by letting them get killed there another year or whatever. We are not allowed to say that the administration, the Washington establishment and the media have failed us as has happened seldom before. ...

I come from a school of journalism that said, to the contrary, that if you didn't report the parking tickets you should turn in your press pass. What people did with the information was their business; reporting it was yours.

I also can remember a liberalism that assumed every good Democrat was fighting a two-front war: against the GOP on one hand and against the SOBs in the Democratic Party on the other. I suspect many of today's liberal mythmakers would have wanted us to adapt to Carmine DeSapio, Richard Daley, Strom Thurmond and George Wallace in the interest of beating the Republicans and maintaining party unity. But the funny thing is that the party was stronger back when it lacked such phony unity.

Fundamentalism in religion or politics comes to no good end because life always contradicts itself. ... Just when you think you're among the faithful, someone betrays you.

Similarly, when you walk into the voting booth, artificially implanted illusions, false faith and naive hope won't do you any good. It is far better to take some reality along, even if you have to take a barf bag as well. To be sure, you won't have the exhilaration of delusional faith but you will be one more voter who knows how the magic really works, and when you know that the magic will no longer fool you and yours will be one more ballot cast for the real.

In the end, no matter who are our leaders are, we, at best, come in second place next to their own interests. Knowing this and why -- and not pretending otherwise -- may not be the meat of myth, but it is certainly at the core of our survival.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Forest dwellers of India losing their land to wind energy development

Add the Adavasis of India to the Zapotecas of Mexico, the Aborigines of Australia, and the Maori of New Zealand (not to mention rural and remote communities everywhere) on the list of indigenous peoples whose land and heritage is being taken by giant energy companies for the questionable fad of industrial wind energy (or rather the carbon credits they "generate" despite not producing useful energy that can actually displace other sources).

See the March 18 story from The Hindu at National Wind Watch:
Adivasis [forest-dwelling indigenous people] in Dhule district, Maharashtra, are protesting the diversion of forest land for wind power projects. About 340 hectares of forest land has been diverted for wind energy projects in Sakri taluka of Dhule district, promoted by Suzlon Energy Limited.

With the passing of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006, adivasis in Dhule as in other parts of the country were hopeful that the land they were tilling for years would be regularised in their names. In 1982, the first petition on regularising forest land in the name of adivasis was filed from Dhule by Karan Singh Kokani in the Supreme Court. Today Karan Singh, secretary of the Satyashodhak Gramin Kashtakari Sabha, says instead of giving adivasis the land, the government has allotted it to a private company. ...
A related piece by Praveen Bhargav about the destruction wrought in the name of clean energy was published in the March 14 Central Chronicle (also available at National Wind Watch):
Today, habitat fragmentation and its consequent 'edge effects' have been scientifically recognised as the primary cause for the destruction of biodiversity rich forests.

Yet, we continue to persist with a myopic, short-term exploitation perspective, which fails to recognise the immense and diverse long-term value of biodiversity rich landscapes.

In the absence of a clear land use policy, many development projects are pushed through without proper scrutiny. While projects like big dams and mining are more carefully scrutinised, those branded as 'clean and green' sneak in through the approval process. They then infiltrate into ecologically fragile landscapes and cause huge negative impacts. Environment Impact Assessments (EIAs) though mandatory, lack teeth. They are further reduced to a farce by EIA consultants who masquerade as environmentalists. The reports they rustle up are bereft of data. So projects get approved without proper analysis of their impacts. ...
wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, human rights

Oaxacans oppose taking their land for wind energy

The first bulletin below describes the taking of community farm land in Oaxaca for a giant wind project to benefit the Spanish energy company Iberdrola. Spain will claim the resulting production as a reduction of its own carbon dioxide emissions. The second bulletin describes the wider situation of harassment and violence, under cover of which the industrial wind energy projects are being pushed. A 3 March news report of this opposition as well as the serious threat to migrating birds is available at wind-watch.org.

UCIZONI -- La Unión de Comunidades Indígenas de la Zona Norte del Istmo (Union of Indigenous Communities of the Northern Zone of the Isthmus) -- is a group of 84 communities and neighborhoods in 9 counties of the state of Oaxaca in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Ejidatarios are the people who communally farm ejidos, former private lands that are now owned by the federal government. The original Spanish versions of these bulletins are available at iberica2000.org.

UCIZONI press bulletin no. 8 -- 28 February 2007

The execution of the wind energy project La Venta II, that has begun in La Venta, Juchitán, Oaxaca, has meant a true plundering of the land for the ejidatarios of that region. Although the Mexican Government was required to inform and to consult the population affected by massive investment projects, until now it has refused this right to the ejidatarios and indigenous neighbors.

For more than two years the farmers faced harassment and deceptive offers. Nevertheless, the resistance of the community was broken down when ministerial police threatened to jail the Ejidos Committee President Rafael Solorzano Ordaz, to whom they dishonestly imputed responsibility in several crimes, forcing him to resign his position. They then installed in his place PRI [Partido Revolucionario Institucional (the party that dominated Mexico through most of the 20th century)] member Carlos Antonio Ordaz.

With the intervention of the Commissariat and base threats and lies, dozens of ejidatarios have signed predatory rental contracts that favor the Federal Commission of Electricity [CFE]. These contracts, which were signed before a Notary Public but copies of which have not been delivered to the ejidatarios, are a true plundering: they cover a period of 30 years and commit the farmers to surrender their land for an average annual payment of 12,500 pesos [850 euros or 1,100 dollars] per hectare [2.5 acres] where an aerogenerator tower is erected.

Nevertheless, in spite of the pressures and deceits, the contracted land comprises only 40% of that originally required by the project that has gone forward with an investment of more than 110 million dollars from the transnational Iberdrola. Dozens of ejidatarios have resisted and as yet have not rented their land.

On the other hand, in an illegal assembly last year, which was plagued by irregularities and to which corrupt employees of the Agrarian Attorney's office made sure only a minimum number of ejidatarios attended -- the Ejidos Commission ceded common lands for the CFE to use as operation bases.

This cession was not approved by most of the ejidatarios and caused a large group of farmers on 3 April 2006 to occupy one estate, demanding the return of five hectares [12 acres] that were given to the CFE and payment for the damages caused by the clearings already done in the area.

Before this mobilization, the CFE promoted criminal action against the ejidatarios of La Venta by agents of the Federal Public Ministry of Matías Romero and of Mexico City for the supposed crime of impeding the execution of public works.

By unofficial means we have learned that a federal judge of Mexico City has decided to pursue criminal action against the uncooperative ejidatarios and is preparing at this moment an operation of the Federal Preventative Police to evict the ejidatarios who have formed the "3 April Colony" on the estate that the CFE had tried to take over illegally.

With this serious situation, we make an urgent call to national, state, and international organizations to offer necessary solidarity to the ejidatarios of La Venta, Juchitán, Oaxaca, and we demand the Interior Secretary to halt the repressive operation against the indigenous farmers who face the massive plundering already seen from the CFE to benefit transnational companies.

UCIZONI press bulletin no. 7 -- 27 February 2007

Ramiro Roque Figueroa, UCIZONI representative in the community of Niza Conejo, El Barrio de la Soledad, was stopped with excessive violence by elements of the ministerial police on 22 February, accused of aggravated assault of a city council employee. At the time of his arrest, the police tried to plant a weapon on him and they indicated to him that his detention was the result of his participation in the mobilizations organized by the APPO [Assemblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca, Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca].

The head of the Lower Court based in Matías Romero, Oaxaca, judge Modesto Isaías Santiago Martinez, acting in complicity with the PRI authorities of the municipality of Barrio de la Soledad, had issued an arrest warrant against Ramiro Roque in Penal Docket 21/2007, imputing his responsibility in a crime he did not commit.

In the afternoon of 24 February, ministerial police assigned to the Deputy Attorney General in Tehuantepec appeared in an aggressive way at the address of Moisés Trujillo Ruiz, leader of UCIZONI in La Ventosa, Juchitán, who they tried to detain in an act of continuing intimidation as promoted by Porfirio Montero, the old cacique of the place, who arranged a meeting at the end of the last year between evangelical leaders and Ulises Ruiz [the PRI governor of Oaxaca whose violent police action in June 2006 against the annual Oaxacan teachers strike created the APPO and its actions referred to above], where the governor indicated publicly that he was keeping his job by divine will.

To these repressive acts that are part of the intimidation campaign by the police corps of the state of Oaxaca, add the military operations through all of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, where even red berets from the Army's GAFE [elite U.S.-trained airborne special forces groups] have participated: thus at enormous cost they have been unconstitutionally arresting anyone they consider suspicious.

UCIZONI mobilized the next week in Matías Romero and Tehuantepec to demand an end to harassment and the dismissal of judge Modesto Isaías Santiago as well as of deputy attorney general María del Carmen Chiñas.

Also, a large contingent of UCIZONI women participated in the 8 March demonstration called by APPO, where they demanded freedom for the political prisoners, the end of violence against women, and the dismissal of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, the person directly responsible for the climate of violence and confrontation that is life in Oaxaca.

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, human rights

Saturday, March 17, 2007

New Zealanders not excited about more wind turbines

Two recent articles by Helen Harvey in the Manawatu Standard, via National Wind Watch:

Turbine 'desecration' under fire

Maori have attacked plans for more wind turbines in the Tararua Ranges, saying turbines are weakening the mauri (life force) and mana of the hill tops.

He Kupenga Hao i te Reo (Inc) secretary Ian Christensen objected to the proposed Motorimu Wind Farm at the resource consent hearing in Palmerston North yesterday. It proposes 127 turbines for the hills behind Tokomaru and Linton.

He told the three commissioners that the Tararua ridge line had enough turbines and "further desecration of the ridgeline" with more would weaken mauri to a point where the "wellbeing of people would be in jeopardy".

"Manawatu has been desecrated by the pollution of human beings. We urge that the whole of the mountain range not be desecrated as well," he said. ...

Turbines 'intrusive'

A Massey University survey shows that 80 percent of people in Manawatu who live within 3km of wind turbines find them intrusive.

And 73 percent think the turbines are unattractive. ...

[Robyn] Phipps [who led the survey] was due to give evidence and present the report last night at the resource consent hearing into Motorimu Wind Farm Ltd's application to build a 127-turbine wind farm on the Tararua Ranges.

"[The survey results] could reflect the reality of living with wind turbines as opposed to the ideology of renewable energy." ...

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, human rights

What We See in Hugo Chávez

From Luisa Valenzuela, writing in the New York Times (of all places!), Mar. 17:

The new vocabulary transcends distinctions of class: the middle classes have now merged with the poor to demand their rights. Hence many students and professionals were in attendance that day, not necessarily attracted by the figure of President Chávez himself so much as by the anti-imperialist opportunity he symbolized. We Argentines, who once imagined ourselves more sophisticated, or more European, than the citizens of neighboring states, were brought closer to the rest of the continent by our impoverishment, and we find ourselves more open to the idea of pan–Latin American solidarity.

Perhaps last week's crowd also recognized the part that President Chávez's monetary aid played in our recuperation of that illusion known as "national identity." For Argentina had virtually disappeared as an autonomous country during the presidency of Carlos Menem from 1989 to 1999, the era of our "carnal relations" with the United States, which took the form of spurious privatizations and a fictitious exchange rate.

While many in Argentina would, nevertheless, not hesitate to call the Venezuelan president a clown or a madman, it's worth keeping in mind that a very heady dose of megalomania is a prerequisite for even dreaming of confronting a rival as overwhelmingly powerful as the United States -- which is also led by a president viewed, in many quarters, as a clown and a madman.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Reminder

The livestock industry -- raising animals for meat, milk, and eggs -- generates 18% of the world's greenhouse gases from human activity. That's more than worldwide transport, and more than the entire E.U.'s total.

Animal farms account for 9% of human-caused CO2 emissions, 37% of methane, and 65% of nitrous oxide. Methane has 23 times and nitrous oxide 296 times the warming effect of CO2.

Whereas human-generated CO2 comes to only 3% of natural emissions, human-generated methane is 150% that from natural sources. And whereas CO2 stays in the atmosphere for more than a hundred years, methane stays only 8-16 years. Therefore, a drastic reduction of methane would have a much quicker effect on the climate.

Curtailing the livestock industry would also reduce the waste of other resources, such as agricultural land (33% of which worldwide is used for animal feed), water (including its pollution), and forests (deforestation for grazing land being another major contributor to global warming).

environment, environmentalism, ecoanarchism, animal rights, vegetarianism

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

David Obey meltdown

From a report by Barry Grey in yesterday's World Socialist Web Site (click the title of this post):

Rep. David Obey (Democrat from Wisconsin), a 20-term congressman who chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee in the new, Democratic-controlled 110th Congress, lashed out at the mother of a Marine and another antiwar activist when they approached him in a congressional corridor and asked if he planned to vote against a supplemental funding bill to finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. ...

Obey is the lead sponsor of [the] supplemental war funding bill announced last week by the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives. The measure is an attempt by the Democrats to present a bill granting the Bush administration's request for more than $100 billion to continue and escalate the war in Iraq as a plan to end the war. ...

The video clip initially posted on YouTube shows a woman, later identified as Tina Richards, and a colleague approaching Obey outside his office in the Rayburn House Office Building. Richards explains that her son is a Marine who has served two tours of duty in Iraq and is facing a third tour. She tells Obey her son suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has attempted to commit suicide. "It took us six months to get his first appointment with the VA (Veterans Administration)," she tells the congressman. "They told him after ten minutes it sounds like you have childhood issues."

Obey responds politely, if somewhat curtly, clearly anxious to end the discussion. However, when Richards asks him if he plans to vote against the supplemental war spending bill, he grows increasingly agitated.

"Absolutely not," he declares, "I'm the sponsor of the supplemental. We're trying to use the supplemental to end the war. ... You can't end the war if you go against the supplemental. It's time these idiot liberals understand that."

Obey goes on to raise the standard pretext of "supporting the troops" (by continuing to send them into battle): "I'm not going to deny the troops body armor," he says. He follows with another sophistry, pointing to the Democrats' proposal to add nearly a billion dollars for medical care for soldiers and veterans to Bush's war spending request as further justification for voting to fund the war. "I'm not going to deny funding for veterans' hospitals and defense hospitals," he declares, "That's what you do if you vote against that bill."

Richards attempts to speak, but Obey cuts her off, saying, "I hate the war. I voted against it to start with. ... But we don't have the votes to de-fund the war and we shouldn't." ...

Obey grows even louder and more hysterical ... "I'm the sponsor of the bill that's going to be on the floor and that bill ends the war. And if that's not good enough for you, you're smoking something illegal. ... I'm not going to debate anymore. Go talk to somebody else. Goodbye."

With that, the congressman rushes into his office and slams the door behind him. ...

What Obey displayed toward his questioners was not mere frustration [as he stated in a later apology], but hostility and contempt. And the frustration Obey and the rest of the Democratic Party apparatus feel is not so much with the war, as with the mass popular opposition to the war.

The Democratic Party is entirely complicit in this colonialist enterprise, and fully defends the imperialist aims that underlie it. But having ridden to power in Congress on the back of the massive antiwar vote cast by the American electorate last November, the Democrats have the task of appearing to oppose the war while opposing any action that would lead to an outright defeat for the United States in the Middle East.

Obey's assertion that he and the rest of the Democratic leadership are in agreement with the American people on ending "US involvement in that war," and that the only question is how to do it, is false. The majority of Americans want to withdraw US troops and end the slaughter now because they know the war is based on lies and they sense it is being waged for deeply reactionary ends. Increasingly, they associate the war with the assault on their jobs, living standards and democratic rights.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Frontier Natural Foods buys "green tags" not green energy

To the people of Frontier Natural Foods Co-op:

I was saddened to read that Frontier -- where I buy several essential oils, not to mention the bulk herbs and teas from my local food co-op -- has jumped on to the "green tag" fad. While supporting the expansion of renewable energy sources is good to do, it is a quite a leap to claim that you are "converted to 100% green power" or even that you have "offset" your power use with credits for renewable energy used elsewhere.

As your web site states, "Frontier buys its green power, sold to us as renewable energy credits, through Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF)."

Despite BEF's claim, renewable energy credits (RECs) are not green power, since the actual energy is sold separately from the credits. The credits are only tokens. This was a scheme invented by Enron to make their wind energy facilities in California more profitable. They magically separated the "environmental attributes" of the energy source as a separate product. After selling the energy into the grid, they could then sell it again as green tags.

It would be like Frontier selling empty tea bags to people who have access only to Lipton and Red Rose teas. They could say they are offsetting their use of nonorganic tea, but obviously they are not.

It is impossible for two customers to enjoy the benefits of the same energy. Your purchase of a kilowatt-hour of green tags is in addition to another customer's purchase of the same kilowatt-hour of the actual energy. The purchase of green tags only makes renewable energy more profitable. That's a fair enough goal, but it does not change anybody's energy use. The green power is generated and used with or without your purchase of its RECs.

A true statement would be, "Frontier donates x dollars for every y units of its energy use to encourage the development of renewable energy."

Further, the assumption of one-to-one offset is quite debatable. Especially with an intermittent and highly variable source such as wind power, it is doubtful that it reduces fuel use or emissions at other plants to a degree anywhere near the amount of energy it generates.

This is because even as other plants are required to reduce their generation in response to wind, they either have to stay warm to be ready to kick in again when the wind drops or they use more fuel because of more frequent restarts. In either case, they are forced to run less efficiently, with the resulting extra emissions canceling out much of the theoretical benefits from wind on the system.

Despite BEF's claim that buying green tags is the same as buying green power and replaces fossil fuel generators, no fossil fuel generator has ever been shut down or even used significantly less because of wind energy on the system -- not even in Denmark. (I can only speak authoritatively about large-scale wind, which I have been studying for over 4 years now.)

Besides the green tokenism of RECs, and the elusive benefits, large-scale wind energy is not environmentally friendly. It threatens birds and bats, requires huge areas of clearance (as well as wide strong roads and transmission rights of way), and disrupts the lives of humans and other animals with noise and visual distraction. At this scale, it is not green. The major players are multinational energy conglomerates who are as heedlessly predatory in this area as in the rest of their business. (A recent story at Tierramérica described the exploitation of the Oaxacans on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, as well as the disregard of the fact that it is the most important bird flyway in the hemisphere, by the Mexican government, the Spanish Iberdrola company, and others.)

I urge you to read more at the web site of National Wind Watch, a coalition of groups and individuals formed in 2005 to raise awareness of the negative impacts of industrial wind power: . I would like to suggest AWEO.org as well, which features the paper "A Problem With Wind Power."

I ask you: first, to assess the reality of green tags beyond their simplistic sales pitch; and second, to consider that support of industrial-scale wind power is incompatible with ecological values.

wind power, wind energy, environment, environmentalism, animal rights

Israel's 'Right to Exist'

Saree Makdisi writes in the Los Angeles Times (click the title of this post):

First, the formal diplomatic language of "recognition" is traditionally used by one state with respect to another state. It is literally meaningless for a non-state to "recognize" a state. Moreover, in diplomacy, such recognition is supposed to be mutual. In order to earn its own recognition, Israel would have to simultaneously recognize the state of Palestine. This it steadfastly refuses to do (and for some reason, there are no high-minded newspaper editorials demanding that it do so).

Second, which Israel, precisely, are the Palestinians being asked to "recognize?" Israel has stubbornly refused to declare its own borders. So, territorially speaking, "Israel" is an open-ended concept. Are the Palestinians to recognize the Israel that ends at the lines proposed by the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan? Or the one that extends to the 1949 Armistice Line (the de facto border that resulted from the 1948 war)? Or does Israel include the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which it has occupied in violation of international law for 40 years — and which maps in its school textbooks show as part of "Israel"?

For that matter, why should the Palestinians recognize an Israel that refuses to accept international law, submit to U.N. resolutions or readmit the Palestinians wrongfully expelled from their homes in 1948 and barred from returning ever since? ...

The Palestinians are not the world's first dispossessed people, but they are the first to be asked to legitimize what happened to them.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

"like a giant heartbeat shaking the earth"

Following the logic that because they have done so much damage already they might as well complete destroy the place, the Powergen company in England wants to add more giant turbines at Deeping St. Nicholas, about which we have posted news of the extreme noise problems already extant (Jan. 12 and Jan. 13). The following is excerpted from an article in the Mar. 10 Daily Mail by Harry Mount:

Like the sound of an approaching train that never comes, the thumps that break the still air are not overpoweringly loud -- at about 65 decibels, they're the level of a lorry going by at 30 miles an hour 100 yards away.

But what is so menacing is the regularity and the scope of the noise, which feels like a giant heartbeat shaking the earth. ...

The turbines hove into view from the Peterborough to Deeping St Nicholas road several miles before you reach the little village, and they dominate the skies from here to the North Sea, 15 miles away.

Five of these monsters are set in a straight line heading away from Deeping St Nicholas. And if you trace that line onwards for half-a-mile on the map, your finger slams slap-bang into the middle of Grays Farm.

And there, in the farmhouse sitting room, with its wood-burning stove and its bookshelves jammed with family photos, are Julian and Jane Davis -- wan, sleepless and very angry indeed.

Three generations of the Davis family have farmed these 300 acres of tenanted land for wheat, sugarbeet, beans, oilseed rape and -- ironically, given the green glow of windpower -- the new generation of biofuel crops. Mr Davis's elderly parents live in a bungalow a few yards away along a gravel track. ...

For the past eight months, the Davises have lain awake at night, staring at the ceiling, driven to distraction by the thump of the blades and feeling the whole house resonating around them.

During the odd moment of silence when the wind is in the right direction, they lie awake, still, dreading the inevitable return of the whoompfs.

Ever since the Davises were first woken from their sleep three days after the turbines were installed, they have kept a log of the noise. Of those 243 days, 231 have been disturbed.

Sometimes, the noise has been so bad that they have fled the house for friends' sofas, and once for the comfort of the local Travelodge. It is on the busy Helpringham roundabout but, for the first time in weeks, they slept through until 7.20am.

Noise generated by a constant flow of traffic is easier to ignore than a repetitive thump that seems to go right through the body. "It's just that little bit faster than the noise of a heartbeat," says Mr Davis, aged 42. "So your body is constantly racing to catch up."

As well as the thump-thump-thump -- which makes the television flicker -- there is a low-level hum from the electric motor housed in the turbines' main shaft, which gets the blades going and controls the mechanism's air-conditioning.

This noise often mutates into what the Davises call the WD-40 noise -- a grating sound similar to that produced by an engine that needs oiling.

"It drives you mad," says Mr Davis. "Your whole body becomes sensitive to it. It draws you to it. Your mind is constantly looking for the noise. I can be farming half a mile away or watching telly, and then suddenly you'll hear it. It's destroyed our lives."

Things have now become so bad that the Davises have been forced to rent out what they call a "sleeping house" in the village for £600 a month.

Now, every night at around 10pm, they take a look at the weather and decide if they should abandon ship for the evening. The noise is particularly irksome if the wind comes from the south along the line of the turbines, whipping them up in unison, so their individual noises are harmonised and amplified. ...

Jane Davis's 17-year-old daughter, Emily, recently had a sleepover destroyed by the turbines. Her friends, bedding down in her room, couldn't get to sleep because of the constant vibrations thrumming through the floorboards.

The list of disasters goes on and on, all recorded in the Davises' scrupulously kept logbook. Last July, reads the book, "we tried to have a BBQ and had to go inside due to noise and vibration -- felt by guests also. Difficult to get to sleep. Wind SSE, SSW.

"Whoosh -- yes. Pulse -- yes. Hum -- yes. We are so tired today that the simplest things -- following a recipe, assembling a cupboard -- seem impossible. Everyone very tired and totally exhausted. This is not living any more."

Even the moles who had plagued the Davises' lawn for 25 years have scarpered. "We used to shovel off tons of earth from molehills, but now they don't come within 25 yards of the house because it's vibrating so much," says Jane ... "They couldn't take the noise."

As the toll of broken nights has mounted, the Davises have grown increasingly emotional. In one logbook entry, Jane wrote: "Woken at 04.37, ears pulsing, whoosh, throb and house humming. I cried.

Eventually got back to sleep by putting fan on facing wall."

The fan is just one of the devices the couple have used to try to drown out the noise. Ear plugs, sleeping pills, turning on the radio -- "or a bottle of red wine," says Jane, half-smiling. ...

And things are only going to get worse. Another 16 of the noisy leviathans are being planned for the site, and the Davises are pessimistic about their chances of stopping them being put up.

First time around, they were aware of the planning application for the eight turbines but, having researched windfarms on the internet, they wrongly concluded they couldn't be too objectionable.

As it turned out, it wouldn't have made much difference if they had objected. The initial application was turned down by the local council, only to be reinstated by John Prescott's office.

The Davises have spent £4,000 on solicitors' fees to see if they can take on Powergen, which operates the wind turbines through its more cuddly-sounding subsidiary Fenland Windfarms. The company did at least cooperate with them by offering to install recording equipment at the farm to measure the amount of noise. This was done last October.

"They measure out the sound as an average over ten minutes," says Julian. "You can stop a dog barking or a noisy neighbour, but you can't stop the turbines because they make an intermittent noise and don't break the guidelines."

As the law stands, the Davises have no chance of ever stopping the noise or of obtaining compensation. Nor does it help that the Government's guidelines for turbine construction near private houses were written in 1996, when the typical blade swung round in a circle a tenth of the size of the ones in Deeping St Nicholas.

The Government has repeatedly promised to review the rules, but has ended up doing nothing. In the meantime, it has given enthusiastic backing for new turbines, following the fashion for all things green. And the Stern Review, published last October, is pushing for more windfarms as a solution to global warming.

This trend is mirrored across Europe, though the restrictions abroad are much tighter -- in France, for example, you can't build a turbine within two kilometres of a private residence. In Britain, the limit is just 500 metres.

At the moment, there are more than 120 applications pending all over the country to erect windfarms close to houses -- ranging from plans for just a pair of turbines to great clumps of 80 whirring away on the Humberhead Levels in Yorkshire ... even though the jury is still out on the effectiveness of windpower, which is completely dependent on the whim of the weather.

Meanwhile, the complaints keep pouring in, particularly from rural beauty spots: from Bears Down in North Cornwall to Askham in Cumbria, prospective neighbours of mega-turbines are up in arms.

Of the 126 windfarms erected in Britain so far -- most of which are far from human habitation -- 5 per cent have engendered complaints about the overwhelming noise.

The next tranche of building is likely to attract far more outrage because the power companies are simply running out of wilderness. ...

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, human rights

Friday, March 09, 2007

Israel using Palestinian children as human shields

From the Guardian (U.K.):

Israelis soldiers were filmed using Sameh Amira, 24, as a human shield on February 25, during a week-long raid into the West Bank city of Nablus. Mr Amira was made to search homes in the city's casbah, or old city, during a search for wanted men and bomb-making laboratories. The casbah in the centre of the city was placed under curfew for two days and a Palestinian man was shot dead when he went onto the roof of his home.

Mr Amira's cousin, 15-year-old Amid Amira, told B'Tselem that soldiers also forced him to search three houses, making him enter rooms, empty cupboards and open windows.

An 11-year-old girl, Jihan Dadush, told B'Tselem that soldiers took her from her home three days later, on February 28, forcing her to open the door of a neighboring apartment and enter ahead of them. The soldiers then took her home, she said. 

In August 2002, a 19-year-old Palestinian student, Nidal Daraghmeh, was killed when troops in the West Bank town of Tubas forced him to knock on the door of a neighbouring building where a Hamas fugitive was hiding. Gunfire erupted and Daraghmeh was killed.

Yesh Din, another Israeli human rights group, has reported that the Israeli army used peaceful Palestinian villages to carry out training exercises. The group said that the villagers were harassed and scared as two battalions of reservists acted out a battle in their midst for three hours. The exercises were carried out without warning in the early morning in the villages of Beit Lid and Safarin last month.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Progressive Vermont ...

People are confused. There was quite a hullabaloo created recently by John Odum, membership director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council, upset that there are secessionist movements in the world that could be characterized as racist or fascist. Second Vermont Republic is also a secessionist movement. Therefore, according to Odum -- and even his nemesis, the otherwise perceptive "Snarky Boy" -- Second Vermont Republic is racist and fascist, despite all evidence to the contrary. Snarky Boy even equates Second Vermont Republic with the homophobic "Take Back Vermont" campaign of several years ago.

Which is as absurd as the following editorial from northeastern Vermont's main newspaper, the Caledonian-Record, last Friday, a hate-filled effort to portray Cindy Sheehan as hateful for working to end the war on Iraq, the killing of both Iraqis and Americans.
On Saturday, Cindy Sheehan will appear and speak at St. Johnsbury School. Sheehan is a notoriously controversial peace activist who is so vicious and non-discriminating in her hate-filled broadsides that she once called the Islamo-fascist militants who are killing our troops, "freedom fighters."

These are the same people who killed her son, Casey. We aren't interested in Sheehan's desperate quest for a fame that diminishes every day for her. We want some answers that, so far, no one is willing to provide.

Does the school board have a policy regarding political use of its public buildings? Is the school automatically available to any group who asks to use it, regardless of their political or religious or other controversial orientation? Who asked, and how did they ask, to use our public school for this highly partisan political purpose? Is this group paying for use of the school? If so, how much? If not, why not?

Who on the St. Johnsbury School Board said "Yes" to this petition? Would the same people who approved this group OK a petition to use the facilities from the Ku Klux Klan? Or from the American Man/Boy Love Association? Or from the Aryan Brotherhood? Or from the American Nazi Party?
Or from Second Vermont Republic, one of whose advisors is Dan DeWalt of Newfane, who invited Sheehan to Vermont??

George Bush and Dick Cheney killed Cindy Sheehan's son, a victim along with the Iraqi people (not to mention the American people) of corporatist (i.e., fascist) imperialism. Continuing acquiescence to their war is killing yet more. That is a political statement and ought to be debated. Those who, like the infantile, reactionary, and just plain stupid about so much publisher of the Caledonian-Record, would silence that debate have forgotten what democracy is. It is the duty of citizens to question our government. That's what participation means.

Rather than shout this "editorial" out from his hideyhole, demanding answers, why didn't he act like a journalist and call up the school and school board? That's no fun! Where would the hate be that keeps the system going?

Similarly, John Odum on his up-to-now irrelevant blog reproduced without question the accusations of another's -- anonymous, though likely himself -- blog about Second Vermont Republic and demanded answers. Why didn't he simply call up and ask them the questions he had? Because he, too, is infantile, reactionary, and just plain stupid about so much.

The fact is, we are all shut out of our own democracy. Impeachment bills languish in statehouses because the Democratic party (and "Independent" Bernie Sanders) run from their duty to challenge a tyrant (to which power each of them obviously aspires -- any problem they have with Bush and Cheney's crimes is envy, not horror -- thus they bully state legislators to not act according to the people's clear mandate). Rightwingers can only hurl invective at those who take their responsibility as citizens seriously, who don't on the one hand fetishize power and on the other worry about the sensitivities of our military families. The "vital center" does the same. The left is famous for splintering into accusatory camps. We are as occupied a country as Iraq, turning on each other because our government gives us the finger at every turn. The crumbs are meager, but even while we fight for our share, we ought to be able to recognize the crime that only crumbs are given us -- by people whose power we pay for and is in our name!

Hating is easy, to defend your tribe's claim of crumbs. Democracy has become something to fear. Second Vermont Republic advocates a vital democracy, in which everyone's voices would be part of our self-government, whose purpose will be to serve the people, not wage war. There won't be a Democratic/Republican Party to keep us distracted from the real work of the occupying power. Most people wouldn't know what to do. Freedom is something else they fear. In Vermont as much as anywhere in this dying republic.

Vermont, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Impeach Bush and Cheney

Come on, already!

A state legislature can introduce articles of impeachment in the U.S. Congress. A joint resolution to do so is languishing in the Judiciary Committee of the Vermont House, because the Democratic party and so-called independent Bernie Sanders are not comfortable with the people acting against a tyrant (they might be next!).

Something like 27 towns in Vermont have an impeachment resolution on the warning. Ohttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifthers may have it raised as "other business."

Go to the post office and buy a bunch of postcards and send them to your representatives in the House and Senate, to Speaker Gaye Symington, President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, and members of the House Judiciary Committee (Lippert of Hinesburg [Chair], Grad of Moretown [Vice-Chair], Flory of Pittsford, Allard of St. Albans Town, Clarkson of Woodstock, Donaghy of Poultney, Gervais of Enosburg, Jewett of Ripton, Komline of Dorset, Marek of Newfane, Pellett of Chester, Clerk). Demand that they move to impeach Bush and Cheney. Click on the title of the post for more information.

Here's a link to the legislative directory.

Here's where you can check on the status of the resolution.

Vermont

Transnationals vs. birds and farmers in Mexico's Isthmus of Tehuantepec

From Tierramérica (click on the title of this post), via National Wind Watch:

The Mexican government is preparing a big wind energy project, but peasant farmers and bird experts aren't too happy about it.

The government's aim is for wind-generated electricity -- which now accounts for just 0.005 percent of the energy generated in Mexico -- to reach six percent by 2030. ...

Achieving that goal involves setting up more than 3,000 turbines in Mexico's windiest zone, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in the southern state of Oaxaca ...

But erecting the windmills, tall towers with a 27-metre blade span, requires negotiating with landowners, most of whom are farmers. Some have complained that they were taken advantage of when the first wind farm was created in 1994.

Meanwhile, ornithologists experts warn that many bird species are at risk of being killed by the giant blades, which could cause an environmental chain reaction across the continent, because various birds are migratory.

"Everything is bent towards facilitating the wind farms, but there is not much interest in the birds, which in the long term could bring much broader problems," Raúl Ortiz-Pulido, spokesman for the Mexican office of Birdlife International, told Tierramérica. ...

In the environmental standards for wind farms now being debated, the officials propose eliminating the environmental impact studies that other projects require. This requirement would be replaced by a "preventive report", which is of a lower category and reduced scope.

In the introduction of the new norm, which by law must be open for public discussion for 60 days (with the deadline being the end of February), it is recognised that wind turbines can have "impacts on avian fauna".

It states that the head of the project [emphasis added] should make an "inventory of species that utilise the area, detailing their relationships to determine the repercussion of the displacement of some of them, mating seasons, nesting and raising of young."

But some scientists say it would not be enough for the isthmus area. Six million birds fly through Tehuantepec each year, including 32 endangered species and nine autochthonous species. ...

In La Venta, part of the Juchitán municipality in Oaxaca state, is where most of the official plans for wind turbines are concentrated. The impoverished region is home to 150,000 people, most working in farming and livestock.

There the farmers are also upset with the official plans.

"The landowners were fooled with fixed arrangements, ridiculous payments for rent for installing the turbines and impediments to farming. We won't allow any more plans to be carried out," Alejo Girón, leader of La Venta Solidarity Group, told Tierramérica.

The first wind project, La Venta I, began operating in 1994, and in the past two years continued with La Venta II. Now the government of Felipe Calderón has announced that it will open bidding for La Venta III, and others will follow, like the Oaxaca and La Ventosa projects.

They are projects in which transnational corporations like Spain's Iberdrola and France's Electricité have shown great interest, as have local firms like Cemex cement company, which are considering wind turbines for their own energy needs, and in some cases sell their surplus to the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).

Finalising these plans means convincing the landowners, to whom CFE pays for each one of the 100 turbines already installed in La Venta less than 300 dollars a year, which is 10 to 20 times less than what their counterparts in other countries receive, says Girón.

"The wind projects created almost no new jobs and they don't benefit the residents. Here nothing changed. We remain poor despite the fact that the CFE promised that this would change," Feliciano Santiago, municipal secretary of Juchitán, told Tierramérica.

[For those with Spanish, read two recent press releases from UCIZONI (La Unión de Comunidades Indígenas de la Zona Norte del Istmo) about their struggle, posted at Ibérica 2000. Update: now in English!]

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, environment, environmentalism, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism, ecoanarchism, animal rights

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Second Vermont Republic

Thomas Naylor, founder of the current Vermont independence movement, writes:

The U.S. Empire is going down -- with or without Vermont. The federal government has lost its moral authority. It is owned, operated, and controlled by Corporate America. National and Congressional elections are bought and sold to the highest bidders.

Vermont is no exception to this rule.

Nationally, we have a single political party, the Republican Party, disguised as a two-party system. The Democratic Party is effectively brain dead, having had no new ideas since the 1960s.

The United States of America has become unsustainable politically, economically, agriculturally, socially, culturally, and environmentally. It is also ungovernable and, therefore, unfixable.

Go saoraid!

Vermont, anarchism, anarchosyndicalism,