For the past 15 years, I’ve worked as a rafting guide on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. I’ve been privileged to share the wonders of this remarkable place with people from all over the world, and they always tell me that the Grand Canyon is the most amazing place they have ever been. That is why I am concerned about the re-opening of uranium mining on 1 million acres of federal public lands adjacent to Grand Canyon National Park.
Since July 20, 2009, a two-year moratorium disallowing new mining operations has been in effect while the Bureau of Land Management conducted an environmental impact study. A Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been developed that includes four proposed alternatives for management of these lands. The public comment period will end on May 4. It is critical that the BLM hear from all concerned citizens by that date.
Security officers at BP’s shareholder meeting [on April 14] in London blocked the entrance of a delegation of four fishermen and women from the Louisiana and Texas Gulf Coast area heavily damaged by last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Among them was Diane Wilson, a fourth-generation fisherwoman from the Texas Gulf Coast. She was there to present BP executives with the Ethecon Black Planet award for companies who represent a danger to the planet.
While in Kabul in March of this year, I visited the U.S. military base in that city, Camp Eggers . Knowing I would need a pretext to gain entry, I typed up a letter offering to give a presentation on wildlife in Afghanistan , which I had been studying. When approaching the base, one passes through an initial checkpoint, where a Hummer topped with a machine-gun nest stands guard. Then there is a 100-yard walk down a narrow corridor between high concrete blast walls, at which point one arrives at a guarded entry point through the wall. I showed my passport and letter, and was escorted through a second layer of blast walls to a little wooden information booth in this still-peripheral circle of defense. The pimply young lad manning the booth was flustered by my request; he had never seen anything quite like it. He did what all soldiers do when faced with something new; he phoned his superior for orders on how to proceed.
Update March 20, 2011: A Coast Guard officer with a command center in Morgan City, LA, said today the Coast Guard has confirmed that oil is not coming from the Deepwater Horizon well but that they have found what appear to be smaller oil slicks in the Gulf. Their investigation into reports of large oil slicks is continuing. Additional photos and information from pilots John Wathen and Bonnie Schumaker who flew over the area yesterday are expected to be released today.
The Coast Guard is investigating reports of a potentially large oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico not far from the Deepwater Horizon site. According to a knowledgeable source, the slick was sighted by a helicopter pilot on Friday and is about 100 miles long. A fishing boat captain said he went through the slick yesterday and it was strong enough to make his eyes burn.
It’s absolutely shocking news: The U.S. Department of Agriculture has publicly admitted it is responsible for the mass poisoning of tens of millions of birds over the last several years. It’s all part of the USDA’s program called “Bye Bye Blackbird,” and we even have the USDA’s spreadsheet where they document how many millions of birds (and other animals) they’ve poisoned to death.
This weekend, despite the wishes of the New York State Legislature, New York Governor David Paterson vetoed legislation that would have put a moratorium on vertical and horizontal hydraulic drilling, a controversial practice known as fracking. Bowing to industry interests, the governor instead issued an executive order placing a weaker moratorium on horizontal fracking alone.
Jeffrey St. Clair is co-editor with Alexander Cockburn of the muckracking Web site and newsletter CounterPunch–where he has written extensively on BP’s Gulf catastrophe and other environmental issues. At the Socialism 2010 conference in San Francisco, he described the conveyor belt between the executive suites of energy companies and the offices of government agencies that regulate them–and how this incestuous relationship set the stage for the BP disaster.
The gap between the diffuse human yearning for a decent world and the organized agenda of the corporatocracy has never, in my lifetime, been wider.
I continue to be unable to turn away from the Gulf and what seems to be the unceremonious ushering in of a new age, a new awareness — or maybe just the beginning of the end of our amped-up, gated, reckless civilization . . . and all that has a chance to come after it.
What the spill has yet to reach are the headquarters of corporate power and the consciences ensconced therein. The arrogance of the great capitalists remains undamaged, as they busy themselves with post-disaster job one: fending off what they fear will be a tide of market-fettering regulations and restrictions curbing their freedom to plunder the planet.
USDA Approves ArborGen’s Request to Plant 260,000 Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus Trees Across U.S. South
On May 12, the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service issued its decision to approve the mass-release of over a quarter of a million GE eucalyptus trees across seven states in the U.S. South (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina), despite overwhelming public opposition.
By Political Committee of the Socialist Equality Party (US) WSWS
With each passing day, the scale of the disaster unleashed by the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico increases. Somewhere between 5,000 (the official estimate) and 25,000 (the estimate of some scientists) barrels of oil is surging into the Gulf every day. Before it is over, millions, if not tens of millions of gallons of oil will be washed up on America’s wetlands and shorelines.
What if BP, the principal corporate entity responsible for the monstrous oil well rupture a mile beneath Gulf of Mexico were a human being, a flesh and blood person instead of a faceless transnational corporation? It’s a fair and simple question, and the answers tell us a lot more about the world we live in.
Chevron’s ‘Dirty Tricks Guy’ in Ecuador, Diego Borja: “Crime Does Pay”
There are shocking new revelations about Chevron’s attempts to corrupt the trial in Ecuador over the company’s massive contamination of the Amazon rainforest.
In recorded conversations released today, longtime Chevron contractor Diego Borja threatened to reveal damaging evidence “cooked” by Chevron in the environmental trial in Ecuador unless he received enough money for turning over secret videotapes to high-ranking Chevron executives. The revelations are contained in a report authored by San Francisco Bay Area-based attorney and Private Investigator, Grant Fine.
Islam Siddiqui, Obama's latest Monsanto Man: chief Ag Negotiator, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Image at bit.ly/bv8CYD with a hat tip.
By Rady Ananda
Despite declining bee and butterfly populations from agricultural chemicals, on Saturday the US Senate approved President Barack Obama’s nomination for chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Monsanto lobbyist Islam Siddiqui.
“Dr. Siddiqui’s confirmation is a step backward,” said Tierra Curry, a scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity (the “Center”). “His appointment ensures the perpetuation of pesticide- and fossil-fuel-intensive policies, which undermine global food security and imperil public health and wildlife.”
GMWatch collected these two essays, The Trouble with Biofuel and The Case against Biofuels, noting:
Despite strong evidence that growing food crops to produce “biofuels” is seriously harming both the environment and the world’s poor, the Obama administration is backing big subsidies and programmes that are boosting their use.
Art by Kate MacDowell; photo by Dan Kvitka for NYTimes
By Robert C. Koehler
How much longer can we tolerate soulless progress?
“Then the coal company came, with the world’s largest shovel/And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land/Well they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken/Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.”
John Prine was writing about his parents’ home in western Kentucky, not Niyamgiri Mountain in eastern India, but I couldn’t help but hear the echo of these four-decade-old lyrics as I thought about the struggle of the Dongria Kondh, around whom a global protest movement has grown to stop the digging of an open-pit bauxite mine in the middle of their land.
Maybe it seems odd to link Appalachia and tribal India, but I do so intentionally because it’s the same planet, the same phenomenon of progress, the same devastation of traditional life tied to place. Continue reading →
In my last column, I reviewed the military implications if the United States and Israel launched an attack on Iran. I will now discuss the types of weapons likely to be used and the catastrophic contamination of the entire Middle East region and the world that would result should they be foolish enough to proceed.
As with the “shock and awe” attack on Baghdad, many missiles are likely to be fired from naval vessels located in the north of the Persian Gulf. Many of these missiles contain uranium components and would form part of an initial attack on the nuclear facilities in Iran.