Archive for December, 2016

MEETING TO ORGANIZE CAMPAIGN TO DECLARE UTICA/CNY A HATE-FREE ZONE

December 27, 2016

stop-hate

MEETING TO ORGANIZE CAMPAIGN TO DECLARE UTICA/CNY A HATE-FREE ZONE

Now more than ever, we need to stand up for diversity and tolerance. We need to stand together for those who are at the greatest risk of racism, sexism, bigotry, and violence under this new administration.

During the recent national election campaign, there were many racist, misogynistic, and bigoted remarks made, fueling a climate of fear and hatred. Many local residents, particularly people of Arabic decent, Muslim faith, Asian-American, African-American, women, immigrants, disabled, and LGTBQ are concerned about their safety, feel vulnerable and under attack.

The Central New York Citizens in Action Inc. is appalled at the growing acceptance of hate speech and hate behavior. Moreover, we condemn the decline of civility during the recent campaign and what it could mean for the democratic process.

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Since the election, there has been a significant increase in hate crimes. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported “867 cases of hateful harassment or intimidation in the United States in the 10 days after the November 8 election.”

Our community is known internationally as a diverse and tolerant community that has welcomed refugees from many nations. One in every four residents of the City of Utica is an immigrant or refugee. Our region has also been historically a national leader in the peace, civil rights, labor, women’s, and abolitionist movements.

We need to send a loud and clear message that is not acceptable to engage in bigoted and hate speech or harassment in our community. It never has been, and it never will be.

The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. is organizing a news conference in January to urge the Utica Common Council to support a resolution declaring Utica a hate-free zone. We need your help in supporting this resolution and enacting similar resolutions for other local governments. Another topic for discussion will be reinstituting the City of Utica Human Relations Commission. Please join us for a planning meeting at noon on Thursday, December 29 at the Tramontane Cafe, 1105 Lincoln Ave., Utica, NY 13502 (second floor) to talk about this important action to defend human rights in our community and the United States. Food will be available for purchase.

We are seeking organizations and individuals to endorse this resolution. A draft copy of the resolution will be presented at the meeting for discussion.

Please let us know you can attend or would like to get involved in this important action by contacting us at 315-725-0974 or cnycitizenaction@gmail.com. For more information, http://www.cnycia.org https://cnycitizenaction.wordpress.com https://www.facebook.com/Central-New-York-Progressive-Action-659297800873928/?fref=ts https://www.facebook.com/pages/Central-New-York-Citizens-in-Action/265689434204

Photo credit:  Sylvia de Swaan

Image credit:  flickr.com

 

 

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#TakeTrumpOn: CNY Residents Speak Out Against Trump’s Climate Rollbacks, Urge Cuomo to Lead with State Budget

December 22, 2016

dsc_0533-copy-1Climate Denying President-Elect a Direct Threat to CNY

President-elect Donald Trump has announced an oil tycoon as the nation’s top diplomat, as well as climate deniers to lead federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Energy Department. Today, Utica, Syracuse, and Central New York residents rallied against Trump’s anti-climate agenda, and called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to take Trump on.

At a news conference today, local representatives of NYRenews, a coalition of over 100 labor, community, and enviro groups across the state, came together to urge the Governor to stand up to Trump and show true climate leadership by including the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) provisions in his 2017 budget.

Few regions have felt the devastation of climate change more than Central New York, with severe weather patterns causing flooding and droughts, which endanger lives, undermine the economy, and expose the state’s aging infrastructure. Additionally, Utica, Syracuse, Rome, and surrounding communities have become the epicenter of a booming fossil fuel industry, as volatile oil cars pass homes, schools, playgrounds, and more, fouling the air we breathe and contributing to climate change, on their way to the global marketplace.

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The coalition is urging people to contact Governor Cuomo as soon as possible to ensure that his upcoming state budget includes the Climate and Community Protection Act. People can call his office at 518-474-8390, or sign onto NYRenews online petition at http://p2a.co/qa8jqIU.

Representatives pointed out that the enactment of CCPA will have direct benefits for Syracuse, Utica, and Central New York residents. Groups strongly support the green jobs piece of the legislation which will simultaneously help revive Upstate New York’s struggling economy and protect our environment. It will create workforce development opportunities for struggling communities, create new locally owned businesses, and develop living wage jobs. It attaches fair labor standards to all renewable energy jobs associated with projects receiving state funding. That means that jobs in the new energy economy won’t be low-wage jobs, but high-wage, family-supporting jobs.

Local advocates also said that the CCPA will help to tighten regulations on dangerous oil transport trains put Central New York and Mohawk Valley families at risk. New York State has quickly become one of the largest transportation hubs for crude oil in the country. Billions of gallons of volatile crude oil travel through upstate cities like Utica, Syracuse, Rome, and Albany on a daily basis. The CCPA establishes a “climate test” for all state energy decision-making, ensuring that every decision aligns with the goal of decarbonizing New York’s entire economy by 2050. In the future, polluting projects like the oil trains would have a very hard time getting past this test.

United University Professions Vice President Jamie Dangler, Ph.D., said: “Scientists have demonstrated that climate change is real. Donald Trump denies this, which makes it imperative for New York State to become a leader in fighting climate change and developing a new clean energy economy. We applaud the steps Governor Cuomo has already taken to move us forward and we stand ready, as a union that represents workers higher education, to stand with leaders in state government, other labor unions, and community groups around the state in support of the Climate and Community Protection Act.”

Dr. Ken Mazlen, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, SUNY Poly, said: “Global warming was identified in 1975. Fossil fuel funded denial has left us facing an absolutely urgent threat to humanity. Since there will no support at the Federal level, it is up to the States to take action. New York State is a natural leader for the nation.”

John Furman, President of the Central New York Citizen in Action, Inc. (local chapter of the Central New York Citizens in Action, said: “Climate change is here, it’s hurting our families and neighbors, and if New York doesn’t step up to the plate, things are about to get much worse for our region. Governor Cuomo cannot wait to see what Mr. Trump will do – we already know that he plans to renege on the Paris Climate Agreement, and to roll back clean air and clean water protections to benefit the fossil fuel industry. New York has the strongest climate action legislation in the country. It’s bipartisan, and its focus on green jobs in communities like Utica holds enormous potential for our environment and our economy. If Cuomo truly wants to be America’s anti-Trump, then he’s got to step up and get bolder on climate. Trump’s federal agenda on climate is a disaster and represents an emergency for all New Yorkers, especially the most vulnerable. It’s up to NY to lead in this moment of crisis. Governor Cuomo, it’s critical that you take Trump on and make New York the leader our country needs!”

The Climate and Community Protection Act
The Climate and Community Protection Act bill takes Governor Cuomo’s climate and clean energy commitments – including generating 50% of New York’s electricity from clean, renewables sources by 2030 – and places them into law. It also provides unprecedented investments for front line communities like those found throughout the region who are bearing the brunt of climate change already. And it grows the green economy while ensuring a Just Transition to protect workers as the shift is made away from fossil fuels towards energy sources such as wind and solar.

The bill has an unprecedented level of support from 100+ organizations which comprise the NYRenews coalition. It overwhelmingly passed the state Assembly in 2016, and has the support of a bipartisan majority of all state Senators.

 

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NYRenews

NYRenews is a broad coalition of more than 50 community-based organizations, environmental justice groups, labor unions, faith groups, business leaders, and other advocates. NY Renews’ goal is to minimize the way all New Yorkers feel the effects of climate change through a comprehensive statewide switch to 100% clean renewable energy by 2050.

Members include the Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc., New York Working Families Organization, Alliance for a Green Economy, Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition, Buffalo Coalition for Economic Justice, Catskill Mountainkeeper Citizen Action of NewYork, Communications Workers of America, Environmental Advocates of NY, NY State Nurses Association, NY State United Teachers, People’s Climate Movement NY, People of Albany United for Safe Energy – PAUSE, PUSH Buffalo, Rochester People’s Climate Coalition, Sierra Club, Syracuse United Neighbors, and Sustainable Tompkins.

The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. is a multi-issue grassroots advocacy organization affiliated with Citizen Action of New York. For more information, please contact the Central New York Citizens in Action at 315-725-0974 or cnycitizenaction@gmail.com or visit http://nyrenews.org.

TEN WAYS TO DEFEAT TRUMPISM IN CNY

December 20, 2016

The Central New York Citizens in Action (the new chapter of Citizen Action of New York in Utica/Rome) is organizing local efforts to block Trump’s agenda. We are ready to fight back but need your help and support. Please consider supporting the following actions:

1. ATTEND THIS THURSDAY’S NEWS CONFERENCE TO URGE GOVERNOR CUOMO TO STAND UP TO TRUMP’S CLIMATE POLICES

 

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NOTE: The date for the news conference to oppose Trump’s climate policies and to urge Governor Cuomo to adopt progressive legislation to address climate change is Thursday, December 22 at 1:30 p.m. It will be held at the Utica Public Library, 303 Genesee St, Utica, NY 13501, Music Room, Second floor. Parking is in the rear of the public library. The Library is across the street from the Munson-Williams Proctor Institute. We need people to bring signs opposing Trump’s position on climate issues and urging the Governor Cuomo to support NY Renews. Please arrive at 1:15 p.m.

Trump’s election is an emergency for the climate. No doubt, you have seen the news about the people President-elect Donald Trump has nominated to critical positions throughout the federal government – climate deniers and oil tycoons taking over the Departments of State and Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency. If Mr. Trump keeps his threats, New Yorkers are in trouble, and we need leaders on the state level, like Governor Cuomo to step up and take Trump on. If we’re going to see any progress over the next 4 years, the states are now going to have to take the lead. In the run up to the Governor’s State of the State address, the NY Renews coalition is going to be calling on Governor Cuomo to stand up to Trump and be a national leader on climate by passing the most ambitious climate justice policy in the country—the Climate and Community Protection Act—through his budget process.

As Cuomo seeks to position himself as a foil to Trump (and potentially re-stoke his Presidential ambitions), there may be a key opportunity to push him into truly bold action on climate. So NY Renews is organizing a series of press conferences across the state echoing this call to Gov. Cuomo. On Thursday, December 22nd, we’re going to be a press conference right here in Utica.

We need many people there to send a message that we are resisting Trump’s climate policies. We will be holding a press conference on Thursday, December 22nd at 1:30 PM urging Governor Cuomo to include the nation’s strongest climate and clean energy legislation in his 2017-18 State Budget proposal. Your attendance will help make this a great success. The news conference will be at the Utica Public Library, 303 Genesee St, Utica, NY 13501, Music Room, Second floor. Parking is in the rear of the Library. The Library is across the street from the Munson-Williams Proctor Institute.

We need people to bring signs opposing Trump’s position on climate issues and urging the Governor Cuomo to support NY Renews. Please arrive at 1:15 p.m. If you have any questions, please call us at 315-725-0974. We are asking organizations and individuals to attend this important news conference and endorse NY Renews.

2. JOIN IN THE FIGHT AGAINST ATTACK ON HUMAN SERVICE PROGRAMS

We are in the fight of our lives. The policies and programs that safeguard and secure livelihoods for the most vulnerable among us are about to be under siege by a hostile Congress and Administration. To counter this, to protect programs critical to human needs, we must stand united!

We Need Organizations Across the Nation to Sign an Important Letter
(Deadline: January 5, 2017)

Sign a letter to the new President and Congress. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeQ-Tlgv4oypESNMr7ayVrwKQcDAT8-vyYUaO-dj7KMA54TJA/viewform?c=0&w=1 (We need thousands of local and state organizations from across the nation to add to our growing list of local, state, and national groups which are standing together against dismantling the services and protections people need and for proven investments to extend opportunity and economic security to all.

When so much is at stake, why does a letter matter? It says to the Senators needed to block the passage of destructive bills that groups in their states are among thousands nationwide ready to take a stand and take action. We will use and publicize the letter on Capitol Hill and in the press.

If you’ve already signed, thanks! Please share this notice with other organizations – your help makes a big difference!

The letter says, “America’s real greatness comes from its promise to extend opportunity and economic security to all.” It stands for protecting low-income and vulnerable people by rejecting cuts or structural limits on vital programs like Medicaid, SNAP, Medicare, Social Security and SSI. It champions tax credits for low-income people and calls for fair and adequate revenues so we can make the investments we need. It stands with immigrants and against “policies and language that demean and discriminate against race, gender, immigrant status, disability or religion.”

Please read it – we believe your organization will want to sign, and we need you, both to sign and to circulate to organizations in your networks. (For individuals, there’s a petition – we need every voice!) https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeQ-Tlgv4oypESNMr7ayVrwKQcDAT8-vyYUaO-dj7KMA54TJA/viewform?c=0&w=1(For letter text, click here. http://www.chn.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/SAVE-for-all-letter-11-17-16final.pdf To select the letter or petition to read and sign, click here.) https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeQ-Tlgv4oypESNMr7ayVrwKQcDAT8-vyYUaO-dj7KMA54TJA/viewform?c=0&w=1

The letter incorporates principles under the them Strengthening America’s Values and Economy (SAVE) for All. Thousands of organizations since 2011 have signed statements affirming these principles: that federal priorities must (1) protect and assist low-income and vulnerable people; (2) invest in broadly shared economic growth and jobs; (3) increase revenues from fair sources; and (4) seek savings from reducing waste in the Pentagon and elsewhere.

It’s never been more important to come together. The SAVE for All letter is a vehicle to do that – please get on board!

Organizations that should consider signing include (but are not limited to):

· Churches/Congregations/Synagogues/Mosques

· Local Community Organizations (PTA’s / Community Action Agencies)

· Service Provider Organizations (food banks, shelters, clinics, housing authorities, health centers, childcare providers, etc.)

· Local and State Advocacy Organizations (civil rights groups, children’s rights groups, etc)

· Local Chambers of Commerce, Businesses, Union Locals, and Charitable OrganizationsThe deadline for this sign-on letter is January 5th, 2017.

Questions? Email Joseph Battistelli (Jbattistelli@chn.org)

3. SUPPORT A RESOLUTION OF THE UTICA COMMON COUNCIL TO DECLARE OUR COMMUNITY A HATE FREE ZONE.

The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. is planning to organize a news conference during the week of December 26 to urge the Utica Common Council to support a resolution declaring Utica a hate free zone. We need your help to obtain support of local organizations for the resolution. Please contact us at 315-725-0974 or cnycitienaction@gmail.com.

4. PARTICIPATE IN THE DON’T TAKE AWAY OUR HEALTH CARE SPEAK OUT ON JANUARY 12

Republicans plan to jam legislation through Congress to repeal Obamacare and deeply slash Medicare and Medicaid…before Trump is sworn in, handing him a bill to sign on his first day in office. This legislation would endanger health care for tens of millions of Americans. It must be stopped.

We are organizing a “Don’t Take Away Our Health Care” speak-out in Utica on January 12. More details are forthcoming. We are looking for local residents to give testimony of how cuts to their health care will hurt them.

5. ATTEND GRASSROOTS POLITICAL ORGANIZING TRAINING – BUILDING NEW LOCAL PROGRESSIVE LEADERSHIP

The long-term solution to fighting Trumpism is building a local progressive political infrastructure and electing people to office who share our values. We are organizing a series of workshops to help train progressives to run for political office and party committee positions. The first training will be held on January 12. We ae looking for speakers and mentors.

6. GO TO THE UTICA – RALLY TO PROTEST TRUMP INAUGURATION AND TEACH-IN ON JANUARY 21

7. TAKE THE BUS TO WASHINGTON D.C. TO PROTEST TRUMP’S INAUGURATION

8. VOLUNTEER FOR CNY CITIZEN ACTION COMMITTEE TO ORGANIZE LOCAL PROGRESSIVES
We are looking for people to serve on our board of directors and the following committees:

1. Communications – write letters to editor and content for our website, produce videos, and social media, publicize events
2. Political and leadership training – train and support local progressives to run for office
3. Community Outreach and Coalition Building – conduct grassroots organizing, making phone calls, door knocking, getting organizational support
4. Organizing rallies – finding space, making signs
5. Interpreters and translators to translate material into various languages to help us organize communities.

Please call or write us if you would like to volunteer a few hours a week. We are also looking for free office space.

9. BECOME A MEMBER OF CITIZEN ACTION OF NEW YORK TO BUILD A MOVEMENT FOR CHANGE. WE NEED 30 NEW MEMBERS TO FORM OUR CHAPTER. CLICK ON THIS LINK TO BECOME A MEMBER: http://citizenactionny.org/member

10. ASK YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY, NEIGHBORS, AND CO-WORKERS TO JOIN OUR FIGHT FOR A PROGRESSIVE FUTURE!!

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND HAVE A SAFE AND HAPPY HOLIDAY!!

Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc.
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 411; Utica, NY 13503-0411
315-725-0974
cnycitizenaction@gmail.com
https://cnycitizenaction.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Central-New-York-Citizens-in-Action/265689434204

https://www.facebook.com/Central-New-York-Progressive-Action-659297800873928/?fref=ts

Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. was developed from the Utica Citizens in Action, a multi-issue public interest association affiliated with Citizen Action of New York.  It was founded in 1997 to address critical social, economic and environmental issues facing residents of Oneida, Herkimer, and Madison Counties.  Members of our group worked to empower low and moderate income Central New York residents to participate in shaping the policies that affect their lives, such as economic justice, environment, housing, education, economic development, health care, public benefit programs, and consumer issues.   Our projects include research and policy development, public education on a wide range of public policy issues, development of educational materials, community outreach and grassroots organizing, coalition development, training, and lobbying.  Please join our email list by sending an email to cnycitizenaction@gmail.com with the subject heading – Join List.  We also invite you to become a member of our group and attend our meetings.

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION – DECEMBER 2, 2016

December 3, 2016


trump-protest

Credit:  The Atlantic

CNY PROGRESSIVE ACTION NEWSLETTER

DECEMBER 2, 2016

NEWSLETTER OF THE CENTRAL NEW YORK CITIZENS IN ACTION, INC.
(ESTABLISHED IN 1997)

Now celebrating 19 years of community organizing, the Central New York Citizens in Action invites YOU to be part of a movement for progressive change based on shared social values. We believe in educating, advocating, and legislating for the collective good. Join us!

You can view newsletter on:
https://cnycitizenaction.wordpress.com

HEADLINES

MEETING TO RESIST TRUMP – MONDAY, DECEMBER 5

FUNDRAISER TO BENEFIT
STANDING ROCK SIOUX PLANNED FOR SATURDAY

SUPPORT LIVING WAGES FOR NONPROFIT WORKERS

ANNUAL PROGRESSIVE LEADERSHIP
AWARD GALA ON DECEMBER 13

YOUTH MENTORING PROGRAM SPONSORS
SECOND ANNUAL FREE HOLIDAY CONCERT

THE 10 CENSORED STORIES OF 2015-16

100 HEARTBEATS

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MEETING TO RESIST TRUMP – MONDAY, DECEMBER 5

JOIN US ON TUESDAY NIGHT AS WE COME TOGETHER AND PLAN TO STAND UP TO TRUMP’S HATEFUL AGENDA.

UNITE AGAINST HATE & INEQUALITY
After the Election and Beyond
WHAT NOW!
Join Us Monday, December 5th
7:00 PM
Central New York Labor Council, 287 Genesee Street, Utica, NY 13501
Stand up to Hate
Stand up to Inequality
Stand Up to the Trump Agenda
TAKE THE PLEDGE OF RESISTANCE
Join us at this important organizing meeting

 

The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. (Citizen Action – CNY Chapter) is holding a community meeting to organize local resistance to Trump policies. Our first meeting was a success! Our next meeting will be 7 p.m., Monday, December 5 at the Central New York Labor Council, 287 Genesee Street, Utica, NY 13501 (corner of Dakin Street, entrance and parking in rear of building on Dakin Street, down the street from the Utica Public Library).

Among our priorities will be 1) mobilizing support for preserving safety net programs like Medicaid, Affordable Care Act, Social Security, SNAP, and SSI, 2) fighting cuts to human service programs, 3) declaring Utica a hate free zone and a safe and accepting community; 4) organizing buses from Utica for the Women’s March on Washington on January. 21, 2017; 5) offering training in January for people to become involved in local politics; 6) expanding Citizen Action newsletter and website.

The terrifying reality of Donald Trump poised to take power on January 20th has shaken many people to the core. Somehow, he managed to run and win as a populist, which boggles the mind. But now, unsurprisingly, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Trump will face unprecedented conflicts of interest as president, given his vast international business holdings and ties to financial institutions. It’s hard to imagine the extent of the self-dealing and blatant corruption that will likely occur under his presidency. Add in his empty promises to “drain the swamp”, with his appointment of wealthy lobbyists and insiders to key positions, along with his vindictive nature and propensity for wildly offensive behavior, and the situation begins to look very dire. That’s all without even mentioning his bigoted statements and elevation of white nationalism.

However, as concerned citizens we must not be complacent. The only way to mitigate the consequences of his presidency is to organize and push back against his extremist policies and hateful rhetoric.

On December 5th likeminded members of our community will meet to discuss a range of actions that we can take to call out Trump’s extreme hypocrisy and blatant corruption. Together, with other community organizers across the country, we can make a difference.

We can be successful in stopping the dismantling of the many vital programs we all care deeply about, but only if we work together, and build a sustainable movement in our area to support Congressional champions like Senator Schumer, and hold members of Congress and the Trump administration accountable. We must oppose weakening of climate change goals, environmental and food safety standards, anti-monopoly laws, and consumer protections.

It is important that we work together to protect each other from hate crimes. The Southern Poverty Law Center has already documented over 700 acts of hate since Election Day.

There will be much to protest under a Trump administration. His selection of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education means even more attacks on our public schools and privatization masked as ‘choice’. His immigration plan will significantly roll back immigrant rights and continue the tide of deportations. The appointment of Jeff Sessions as attorney general is good news for the Monsanto-Bayer merger and other moves toward monopolies. Attacks on unions and worker rights will put many families into poverty. Trump’s tax plan will create massive tax cuts for the wealthy, which will force austerity measures on the rest of us. Trump’s deregulation of the banking industry will trigger the conditions for another financial collapse. Stephen Bannon’s role in spreading racist and xenophobic outrages through Breitbart is chilling.

Here is what’s at stake for Central New Yorkers:

  • Big cuts to basic safety net programs – Medicaid is likely to be turned into a block grant to states and cut deeply;
  • Medicare will be privatized and replaced with vouchers; Affordable Care Act will be repealed; SNAP/Food Stamps will be turned into block grants and funding will sharply reduced.
  • Tax and budget policies that favor the 1% at the expense of the rest of us will be put into effect, increasing inequality and condemning many to low wage jobs without benefits.
  • “Huge” giveaways to corporations will hurt small business and increase taxes for the middle class.
  • The Trump infrastructure plan is starting to look like a massive tax subsidy for private sector entities that will, for example, build a road and then own it/charge tolls on it.
  • Immigrants, including 700,000 “Dreamers” (young people who have temporary legal status under the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program) are threatened with deportation.
  • There will be an early effort in January to pass a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, with its replacement to be determined later. For appropriations bills (and much other legislation), 60 votes are needed in the Senate.

Democrats can block those bills, so they have leverage.

We must organize, not mourn! We can stop some of these policies, but only if we support each other, build a local progressive movement with our own media and infrastructure, run progressives for office, organize rallies and protests, lobby legislators, and hold members of Congress and the Trump administration accountable.

To join our movement, please contact Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. (Citizen Action- Utica),
P.O. Box 411; Utica, NY 13503-0411, 315-725-0974, cnycitizenaction@gmail.com, https://cnycitizenaction.wordpress.com, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Central-New-York-Citizens-in-Action/265689434204, https://www.facebook.com/Central-New-York-Progressive-Action-659297800873928/?fref=ts

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FUNDRAISER TO BENEFIT
STANDING ROCK SIOUX PLANNED FOR SATURDAY

 

A fundraiser to benefit ongoing protests against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near Cannonball, North Dakota will take place beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday at the DEV, 41 Devereux St.

The protests, which started in April, are aimed at the prevention of oil pipeline construction through ancestral land of the indigenous Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Taking the title of water protectors, those who have congregated do so to protect indigenous rights as well as the tribe’s access to clean water — which they fear will be compromised if the pipeline is completed.

The benefit also will recognize local activist Aaron Dorn, who upon bringing supplies to Standing Rock, was assaulted and arrested days later. While Dorn has been released, his personal items and property are being held by law enforcement. Proceeds from the fundraiser also will be used to help Dorn’s legal fund in his fight for justice.
Musical acts, set to start performing at 8 p.m., will continue throughout the evening.

A cover charge of $5 will be applied for the festivities which will include sets by Comfy, Fig Mints, Substanance and Thomas D.

This event is for adults ages 21 and older. For information about the event or to make a donation, call 315-794-8784. Credit: Utica Observer Dispatch

 

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SUPPORT LIVING WAGES FOR NONPROFIT WORKERS

The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. is part of the Restore Opportunity Now (RON) campaign which is comprised of human services agencies across New York State. The campaign is holding a press conference next Thursday at 12 o’clock in Albany. We are hoping to bring as many colleagues as possible to the event. Sign on information is listed below.

In order to increase our bandwidth on issues of living wages for not for profits, we have to show the State’s leadership the kind of support we have statewide. There is no better way to show that then by joining us next Thursday. Please contact us if you would like to carpool.

Restore Opportunity Now is a statewide campaign, seeking systemic changes and key investments in the nonprofit human services sector.

We hope you will sign on today, and join us next week for our campaign launch/press conference in Albany:
Date: December 8, 2016 (Thursday)
Location: The LCA Room (130 LOB), Albany, NY 12224
Time: 12 PM
Please RSVP ASAP by clicking here.
Now more than ever, it is critical that New York State continue to be a progressive leader. This campaign will highlight the many issues experienced by nonprofits, and seek to work collaboratively with government to ensure:
• Appropriate, competitive compensation for our workforce, allowing for recruitment and retention of quality staff;
• Contracts that cover the real cost of providing services, permitting nonprofits to be innovative, efficient, and effective;
• Investments in core programs necessary to lift up communities.

 

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ANNUAL PROGRESSIVE LEADERSHIP AWARD GALA ON DECEMBER 13
You’re Invited
Citizen Action of New York
Annual Progressive Leadership Award Gala
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
6:00 to 9:00 pm
1199SEIU Penthouse
330 W 42nd Street, 33rd Floor
New York, NY
We are organizing a delegation from the Utica/Syracuse area to attend. We can help you to be part of this important event. Please contact us at 315-725-0974 or cnycitizenaction@gmail.com if you would like join us for a fantastic evening of fun and social justice work!!
Click here to RSVP now!
Honoring these dedicated progressive leaders:
SHAUN KING
Senior Justice Writer
NY Daily News
KATE LINKER
Greater NYC for Change
LINDA SARSOUR
Executive Director
Arab American Association of NY
DENNIS TRAINOR
Vice President
CWA District One
Lifetime Champion Award
HON. JIM BRENNAN
NYS Assemblymember
Click here to RSVP now!

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YOUTH MENTORING PROGRAM SPONSORS
SECOND ANNUAL FREE HOLIDAY CONCERT

CONCERT FEATURES NATIONAL RECORDING ARTIST SERENA YOUNG

Dare to be Different, a youth mentoring program based in Atlanta, will sponsor the Second Annual Family and Friends Concert at 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 17 at Believer’s Miracle Deliverance Ministries, 207 Eagle Street, Utica. It will feature national recording artist Serena Young, the Family and Friends Community Choir and other local and national performers, comedians, singers, and inspirational speakers. The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be available. People of all ages and faiths are welcome and are encouraged to bring canned goods which will be donated to the Utica Community Food Bank. Information regarding youth job training and educational programs, social development, leadership training will be offered at the event.

Dare to be Different plans to establish a program in Utica to help young people beat the odds by offering positive, empowering in-school, after-school and out-of-school programs, including character building, mentoring, peer-to-peer support, counseling, and tutoring.

A former resident of the Washington Courts public housing project, T. Michael Watson, founder of Dare to Be Different (D2BD), said: “The purpose of this concert is to bring cultural awareness and a sense of unity to the citizens of Utica by bridging the gap between all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. The concert will give hope to youth for a better life and show them that they have the support of adults and community groups to make their dreams come true. We want our youth to” Dare to be Different.”

Mr. Watson further stated: “Our mission is to transform the thought process of youth, encouraging them to make better decisions NOW that will positively affect their future. The possibilities are endless for how ”Dare To Be Different” can change families, communities, and cities by changing one person’s perception of self. I want to introduce this program to the Utica area, because I believe it is a key essential to the growth and development of the community that I grew up in.”

The concert will feature the following performers:

National recording artist Serena Young has been singing gospel since an early age. This Rochester native was a top 5 finalist in season 7 of BET Sundays Best. Serena’s deep Gospel roots and her impeccable voice have afforded Serena the opportunity to work with Shirley Caesar, Kirk Franklin and Donnie McClurkin. Her first album was “I Surrender All.” She will be releasing a new CD in 2017.

Comedian Cuzin Maine is an Albany NY native who has been performing comedy professionally for twelve years. He has shared the stage with comedic greats such as Dick Gregory, Rickey Smiley, and Aries Spears. He made a decision to perform clean comedy routines to prove to his family and himself that it is possible to make someone laugh without using profanity.

Other performers include: Cymil Hamilton – Master of Ceremonies; Cameron Curtis – Minister of Music; Marcelle Johnson – Music Director; Marissa Jones, Psalmist.

Information on the event can be found at the following links:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dare-to-be-different-family-friends-holiday-concert-2016-tickets-29255350541?aff=eandprexshre&ref=eandprexshrehttps://www.eventbrite.com/e/dare-to-be-different-family-friends-holiday-concert-2016-tickets-29255350541?aff=eandprexshre&ref=eandprexshre

https://www.facebook.com/events/572948619561771/?ti=cl

Sponsors and supporters include Big Daddies and Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. For more information on how to become a sponsor and supporter, please contact T. Michael Watson (347) 409- 5353 Mr.MichaelWatsonsr@gmail.com or Natasha Pearson (315) 374-7993 natashasings124@gmail.com.

project-censored-2017

THE 10 CENSORED STORIES OF 2015-16
PROJECT CENSORED 2017
WHEN WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN KILL YOU
By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor and Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor, Random Lengths News

Throughout its 40-year history, Project Censored has covered a lot of ground that the corporate mainstream media has missed. Begun by Carl Jensen, a sociology professor at California’s Sonoma State University shortly after Watergate in 1976, it’s become an endeavor involving dozens of faculty members and institutions working together to come up with an annual list of the Top 25 Censored Stories of the Year.

The Watergate burglary in June 1972 “sparked one of the biggest political cover-ups in modern history,” Jensen later recalled. “And the press was an unwitting, if willing participant in the cover-up.”

“Watergate taught us two important lessons about the press: First, the news media sometimes do fail to cover some important issues, and second, the news media sometimes indulge in self-censorship,” he said.

On the upside, it led to the creation of Project Censored.

As with the Watergate story, these aren’t censored in the overt heavy-handed manner of an authoritarian dictatorship, but in the often more effective manner reflecting our society—an oligarchy with highly centralized economic power pretending to be a “free marketplace of ideas.”

It may give people what they think they want in the moment, but it leaves them hungry for more, if not downright malnourished in the long run. The missing stories concern vital subjects central to the healthy functioning of our democracy. The problem is, we may not even realize what we’re missing, which is precisely why Project Censored is essential.

Another way to think about it is as censorship of what the people as a whole can hear, rather than what any one individual can say. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes it very clear: freedom of opinion and expression includes the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

This year, 221 students and 33 faculty members from 18 college and university campuses across the United States and Canada were involved. A panel of 28 judges comprised of media studies professors, professional journalists, and even a former commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, also participated.

In addition to its central focus on the censored stories, there are plenty of other goodies in the annual report, including a chapter devoted to “Junk Food News,” a retrospective of the project as discussed in “Project Censored Turns 40,” and a chapter on “Media Democracy in Action.”

All these reflect the fact that news isn’t just created for individuals to consume, but for citizens to debate, discuss and then take action upon. The real Project Censored, in short, includes you, the reader.

Project Censored has always dealt with specific stories, but on anniversaries like this one, the larger patterns those stories fit within are impossible to ignore. Economic inequality, global warming, petro-politics, suppression of health science, government spying, corporate influence on government, are all familiar themes that appear again on this year’s list. But a bit more ought to be said by way of introduction to this year’s top censored story, before starting the list proper.

Jensen began the preface to Project Censored’s 20th anniversary edition with the story of how John F. Kennedy killed a detailed New York Times story blowing the whistle on the planned invasion of Cuba. A shrunken, muted version ran in its place. Afterwards, Kennedy told a Times editor, “If you had printed more about the operation, you could have saved us from a colossal mistake.” This years’ No. 1 censored story is a direct descendent of the story JFK wished he hadn’t managed to kill.

1. U.S. Military Forces Deployed in 70 Percent of World’s Nations

The covert exercise of U.S. military power is a recurrent subject of Project Censored stories. This year’s top censored story joins that long tradition. It deals with the massive expansion in the number of countries where the officially unnamed war on terror is now being waged by U.S. Special Operations Forces—147 of the world’s 195 recognized nations, an 80 percent increase since 2010. This includes a dramatic expansion in Africa.

The majority of the activity is in “training missions,” meaning that this expansion is promoting a coordinated worldwide intensification of conflict, unseen at home, but felt all around the globe. Writing for TomDispatch, The Nation and the Intercept, Nick Turse exposed different aspects of this story and its implications.

Turse’s story for the Intercept focused on the development of a single base, Chabelley Airfield, in the East African nation of Djibouti. It’s an “out-of-the-way outpost” transformed into “a key hub for its secret war…in Africa and the Middle East.”

In The Nation, Turse tackled the question of mission success. Project Censored noted that, “Turse [had] reported skepticism from a number of experts in response to this question, pointing out that “impacts are not the same as successes.”

In Vietnam, body counts were mistaken for signs of success.

“Today, tallying up the number of countries in which Special Operations forces are present repeats this error,” Vietnam veteran and author Andrew Bacevich told Turse.
Sources:
Turse, Nick, “A Secret War in 135 Countries,” Tomdispatch, 2015.
Turse, Nick, “The Stealth Expansion of a Secret U.S. Drone Base in Africa,” Intercept, 2015. .
Turse, Nick “American Special Operations Forces Have a Very Funny Definition of Success,” The Nation, October 26, 2015.

2. Crisis in Evidence-Based Medicine

The role of science in improving human health has been one of humanity’s greatest achievements, but the profit-oriented influence of the pharmaceutical industry has created a crisis situation. That research simply cannot be trusted. Burying truth for profit is a recurrent theme for Project Censored. The top 1981 story concerned fraudulent testing from a single lab responsible for one-third of the toxicity and cancer testing of chemicals in America. But this problem is much more profound.

“Something has gone fundamentally wrong” said Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, commenting on a UK symposium on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research:

[M]uch of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. . . The apparent endemicity of bad research behaviour is alarming.

Horton’s conclusion echoed Marcia Angell, a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, who went public in 2009.

A classic case was Study 329 in 2001, which reported that paroxetine (Paxil in the United States/Seroxat in the United Kingdom) was safe and effective for treating depressed children and adolescents, leading doctors to prescribe Paxil to more than 2 million U.S. children and adolescents by the end of 2002, before being called into question. The company responsible (now GlaxoSmithKline), agreed to pay $3 billion in 2012, the “largest healthcare fraud settlement in U.S. history,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Nonetheless, the study has not been retracted or corrected, and “none of the authors have been disciplined,” Project Censored points out. This, despite a major reanalysis which “‘starkly’ contradicted the original report’s claims.” The reanalysis was seen as the first major success of a new open data initiative known as Restoring Invisible and Abandoned Trials.

While Project Censored noted one Washington Post story on the reanalysis, there was only passing mention of the open data movement. “Otherwise, the corporate press ignored the reassessment of the paroxetine study,” and beyond that, “Richard Horton’s Lancet editorial received no coverage in the U.S. corporate press.”

Sources:
Lancet 385, No. 9976. 2015.
Cooper, Charlie, “Anti-Depressant was Given to Millions of Young People ‘After Trials Showed It was Dangerous,’” Independent. 2015.
Boseley, Sarah, “Seroxat Study Under-Reported Harmful Effects on Young People, Say Scientists,” Guardian. 2015. .

3. Rising Carbon Dioxide Levels May Permanently Disrupt Vital Ocean Bacteria

Global warming is a recurrent Project Censored subject. Systemic changes associated with global warming threaten human welfare and all life on earth through a multitude of different pathways. These remain largely hidden from public view. One potential pathway — directly dependent on carbon, not temperature — is through the catastrophic overproduction of Trichodesmium bacteria, which could devastate the entire marine food chain in some regions. It lives in nutrient-poor parts of the ocean, where it fixes atmospheric nitrogen into ammonium, an essential nutrient for other organisms—from algae to whales.

A five-year study by researchers at the University of Southern California and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found that subjecting hundreds of generations of the bacteria to predicted carbon dioxide levels in the year 2100 caused them to evolve into “reproductive overdrive,” growing faster and producing 50 percent more nitrogen.
As a result, they could consume significant quantities of scarce nutrients, such as iron and phosphorus, depriving the ability of other organisms to survive. Or the Trichodesmium bacteria could drive themselves into extinction, depriving other organisms of the ammonium they need to survive.

“Most significantly, the researchers found that even when the bacteria was returned to lower, present-day levels of carbon dioxide. Trichodesmium remained ‘stuck in the fast lane,’” Project Censored noted, a finding that one researcher described as “unprecedented in evolutionary biology.”

Sources:
Perkins, Robert, “Climate Change Will Irreversibly Force Key Ocean Bacteria into Overdrive,” USC News, 2015. .
Howard, Emma, “Climate Change Will Alter Ocean Bacteria Crucial to Food Chain—Study,” Guardian. 2015.

4. Search Engine Algorithms and Electronic Voting Machines Could Swing 2016 Election

Social media has played an important role in recent social movements, from the Arab Spring to Black Lives Matter, but technology can potentially undermine democracy as well as empower it.
In particular, search engine algorithms and electronic voting machines provide opportunities for manipulation of voters and votes, which could profoundly affect the 2016 election.

Mark Frary, in Index on Censorship, describes the latest research by Robert Epstein and Ronald E. Robertson of the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology on what they call the Search Engine Manipulation Effect, or SEME.

Their study of more than 4,500 undecided voters in the United States and India showed that biased search rankings “could shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by 20 percent or more” and “could be masked so that people show no awareness of the manipulation.”
In an earlier article for Politico, Epstein wrote that the Search Engine Manipulation Effect “turns out to be one of the largest behavioral effects ever discovered . . . [W]e believe SEME is a serious threat to the democratic system of government.”

Because courts have ruled that their source code is proprietary, private companies that own electronic voting machines are essentially immune to transparent public oversight, as Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis documented.

In 2016, about 80 percent of the U.S. electorate will vote using outdated electronic voting machines that rely on proprietary software from private corporations, according to a September 2015 study by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.

The study identified “increased failures and crashes, which can lead to long lines and lost votes” as the “biggest risk” of outdated voting equipment, while noting that older machines also have “serious security and reliability flaws that are unacceptable today.”

“From a security perspective, old software is riskier, because new methods of attack are constantly being developed, and older software is likely to be vulnerable,” Jeremy Epstein of the National Science Foundation noted.

On Democracy Now! and elsewhere, Wasserman and Fitrakis have advocated universal, hand-counted paper ballots and automatic voter registration as part of their “Ohio Plan” to restore electoral integrity.

While there has been some corporate media coverage of Epstein and Robertson’s research, the transparency and reliability advantages of returning to paper ballots remain virtually unexplored and undiscussed.

Sources:
Epstein, Robert, “How Google Could Rig the 2016 Election,” Politico, 2015.
Frary, Mark, “Whose World are You Watching? The Secret Algorithms Controlling the News We See,” Index on Censorship 44, no. 4 (2015), 69–73.
Norden, Lawrence and Famighetti, Christopher, America’s Voting Machines at Risk, Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law, 2015.
Goodman, Amy “Could the 2016 Election be Stolen with Help from Electronic Voting Machines?” Democracy Now! 2016.
Fitrakis, Bob and Wasserman, Harvey “Is the 2016 Election Already Being Stripped and Flipped?” Free Press, 2016.

5. Corporate Exploitation of Global Refugee Crisis Masked as Humanitarianism

The world is experiencing a global refugee crisis (60 million worldwide according to a June 2015 report, 11.5 million of them Syrian). This has been covered in the corporate media — though not nearly enough to generate an appropriate response. What hasn’t been covered is the increasingly well-organized exploitation of refugees, particularly those displaced in Syria.
An AlterNet article by Sarah Lazare—cited by Project Censored—warned of the World Bank’s private enterprise solution to the Syrian displacement crisis.

“Under the guise of humanitarian aid, the World Bank is enticing Western companies to launch ‘new investments’ in Jordan in order to profit from the labor of stranded Syrian refugees,” Lazare wrote. “In a country where migrant workers have faced forced servitude, torture and wage theft, there is reason to be concerned that this capital-intensive ‘solution’ to the mounting crisis of displacement will establish sweatshops that specifically target war refugees for hyper-exploitation.”

A World Bank press release touted “the creation of special economic zones or SEZs,” but Project Censored noted, “Myriam Francois, a journalist and research associate at SOAS, The School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, told Lazare that the development of SEZs in Jordan ‘will change refugee camps from emergency and temporary responses to a crisis, to much more permanent settlements.’”

The SEZ proposals, Francois said, are “less about Syrian needs and more about keeping Syrian refugees out of Europe by creating (barely) sustainable conditions within the camps, which would then make claims to asylum much harder to recognize.’”

Another story, by Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report described a related agreement between Turkey and the European Union to keep millions of refugees from entering Europe as “a deal between devils,” adding that Turkey has “cashed in on the people it has helped make homeless.”

In addition to the $3.3 billion in EU money, Project Censored noted:
Turkey has also sought admission to the European Union, and, with this, the right for 75 million Turks to enter Europe without visa restrictions as a condition for controlling its refugee population.

Thus, according to Ford, Turkey has engaged in a “vast protections racket trap,” effectively agreeing to protect Europe from further incursions by “the formerly colonized peoples whose labor and lands have fattened Europe and its white settler states for half a millennium.”
“Europeans will never accept Turkey into the fold, because it is Muslim and not-quite-white,” Ford concluded.
Sources:
Lazare, Sarah, “World Bank Woos Western Corporations to Profit from Labor of Stranded Syrian Refugees,” AlterNet, 2016.
Ford, Glen, “Turkey and Europe: Human Trafficking on a Scale Not Seen Since the Atlantic Slave Trade,” Black Agenda Radio, Black Agenda Report, 2016.

6. More than 1.5 Million American Families Live on $2 Per Person Per Day

Even the working poor receive scant attention, but those living in deep poverty— less than $2 per day — are almost entirely absent.

Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, sociologists and authors of the book $2.00/a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America state that in 2011 more than 1.5 million U.S. families—including 3 million children—lived in deep poverty at any given month.

Their depiction of what poverty looks like reads “like a Dickens novel,” Marcus Harrison Green wrote in YES! Magazine, Project Censored noted, while in the Atlantic, economist Jared Bernstein noted that their research highlights the problematic long-term consequences of President Bill Clinton’s 1996 welfare reform initiative, with its “insistence on work without regard to job availability.”

Project Censored notes that Edin and Shaefer proposed three policy changes to address extreme poverty in the United States:

First, policy must start by ‘expanding work opportunities for those at the very bottom of society.

Second, policy must address housing instability, which Shaefer described as both a cause and a consequence of extreme poverty. “Parents should be able to raise their children in a place of their own.”

Third, families must be insured against extreme poverty, even when parents are not able to work.

William Julius Wilson, a leading sociologist in the study of poverty, described their book as “an essential call to action,” in a New York Times book review, but this was a rare recognition in the corporate press.

Sources:
Green, Marcus Harrison, “1.5 Million American Families Live on $2 a Day—These Authors Spent Years Finding Out Why,” YES! Magazine. 2015.
Bernstein, Jared, “America’s Poorest are Getting Virtually No Assistance,” Atlantic. 2015.

7. No End in Sight for Fukushima Disaster

Five years after the Fukushima nuclear power plant was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, the nuclear disaster continues to unfold, with the ongoing release of large quantities of radioactive waste water into the Pacific Ocean, in turn affecting ocean life through “biological magnification.”

Meanwhile the Japanese government has relaxed radiation limits in support of its efforts to return the refugee population — a move that younger people, prime working-age taxpayers, are resisting.

Project Censored cites a media analysis by sociologist Celine-Marie Pascale of American University. Pascale covering more than 2,100 articles, editorials and letters to the editor on Fukushima in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Politico, and the Huffington Post between March 11, 2011 and March 11, 2013, focused on two basic questions: “risk for whom?” and “from what?”

She found that just 6 percent of articles reported on risk to the general public, and most of those “significantly discounted those risks.” She concluded:
The largest and longest lasting nuclear disaster of our time was routinely and consistently reported as being of little consequence to people, food supplies, or environments…. In short, the media coverage was premised on misinformation, the minimization of public health risks, and the exacerbation of uncertainties.

In contrast, Dahr Jamail’s reporting for Truthout pointed out that the cooling process—still ongoing after five years—has produced “hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of tons” of highly radioactive water, much of which has been released into the Pacific Ocean. Such nuclear disasters “never end,” Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president told Jamail.

Project Censored also cited Linda Pentz Gunter, writing for the Ecologist about the Japanese government’s ongoing coverup.
“In order to proclaim the Fukushima area ‘safe,’ the government increased exposure limits to 20 times the international norm,” Gunter wrote, in order to force refugees to return home, despite medical or scientific evidence to the contrary.

Sources:
Jamail, Dahr, “Radioactive Water from Fukushima is Leaking into the Pacific,” Truthout, 2016.
Pentz Gunter, Linda, “No Bliss in This Ignorance: The Great Fukushima Nuclear Cover-Up,” Ecologist, 2016.
Pascale, Celine-Marie, “Vernacular Epistem- ologies of Risk: The Crisis in Fukushima,” Current Sociology, 2016.

8. Syria’s War Spurred by Contest for Gas Delivery to Europe, Not Muslim Sectarianism

The Syrian war and its resulting refugee crisis have repeatedly gained headlines over the past five years, but the origins of the conflict, control of oil and gas, are rarely considered — the politics of which have dominated the region since before World War II. The hidden influence of oil — from climate change to campaign finance and corporate lobbying to foreign policy — has been a recurrent subject of Project Censored stories.

Project Censored cites a single September 2015 story by Mnar Muhawesh for MintPress News, but that story cites others as well, notably an August 2013, story in the Guardian by Nafeez Ahmed.

“The 2011 uprisings, it would seem— triggered by a confluence of domestic energy shortages and climate-induced droughts which led to massive food price hikes—came at an opportune moment that was quickly exploited,” Ahmed wrote, as part of a broader strategy to undermine governments in the region, as well as manipulating social movements and armed factions for the purpose of maintaining control of oil and gas.

Muhawesh and Ahmed both point, in particular, to Assad’s choice between competing pipeline proposals. He refused to sign a proposed agreement for a pipeline from Qatar’s North field through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey in 2009, because it would have hurt his ally, Russia.

“The proposed pipeline would have bypassed Russia to reach European markets currently dominated by Russian gas giant Gazprom,” Project Censored notes. Instead, Assad pursued negotiations — finalized in 2012 — for a pipeline through Iraq from Iran’s South Pars field, which is contiguous with Qatar’s North field.

Muhawesh cites U.S. cables revealed by WikiLeaks as evidence that “foreign meddling in Syria began several years before the Syrian revolt erupted.” Ahmed came to the same conclusions by drawing on multiple sources, including a RAND Corp. document, “Unfolding the Future of the Long War,” which discussed long-term policy options (trajectories) dealing with the complex interplay of energy interests and ethno-religious-political manipulations.

There’s a whole deeper level of driving forces not being reported on behind the Syrian war and refugee crisis.

Source:
Muhawesh, Mnar, “Refugee Crisis & Syria War Fueled by Competing Gas Pipelines,” MintPress News, 2015. .

9. Big Pharma Political Lobbying Not Limited to Presidential Campaigns

The pharmaceutical industry (aka “Big Pharma”) already appeared in story No. 2, “Crisis in Evidence-Based Medicine,” due to the destructive influence of its financing on the practice of basic science in testing and developing new drugs. But that’s not the only destructive impact of their spending.

Although they spent $51 million in campaign donations in the 2012 presidential election, and nearly $32 million in the 2014 midterms, Mike Ludwig of Truthout reported they spent $7 lobbying for every dollar spent on the midterms.

“The $229 million spent by drug companies and their lobbying groups that year was down from a peak of $273 million in 2009, the year that Congress debated the Affordable Care Act,” Project Censored noted. Legislation influenced all the industry’s top concerns, “including policy on patents and trademarks, management of Medicare and Medicaid, and international trade.”
The last item includes pressuring other countries to suppress the manufacture of life-saving generic AIDS drugs in India, to cite just one example.

“Pharmaceutical lobbyists also consistently lobby to prevent Medicare from negotiating drug prices,” Project Censored also noted. Coverage of their spending is scant, and virtually never tied directly to the issues that Big Pharma itself is lobbying on.

Source:
Ludwig, Mike, “How Much of Big Pharma’s Massive Profits are Used to Influence Politicians?”Truthout, 2015.

10. The Internet Surveillance Act No One is Discussing

In July 2015, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attempted to attach the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA, as an amendment to the annual National Defense Authorization Act. However, the Senate blocked this by a vote of 56-40, in part because, unlike an earlier version, it essentially enabled intelligence and law enforcement officials to engage in surveillance without warrants.

Yet, on Dec. 18, 2015, President Barack Obama signed CISA into law as part of a 2,000-page omnibus spending bill, amid media silence — with notable exceptions at Wired and the Guardian. The act authorized the creation of a system for corporate informants to provide customers’ data to the Department of Homeland Security, which, in turn, would share this information with other federal agencies—the National Security Agency, FBI, Internal Revenue Service and others — without privacy-protecting safeguards.

In one sense it followed a familiar — if distressing — pattern, as the Guardian reported, civil liberties experts had been “dismayed” when Congress used the omnibus spending bill to advance some of the legislation’s “most invasive” components, making a mockery of the democratic process. But this one was different, since censored stories usually do not stifle powerful voices, as Project Censoredobserved:
[Andy] Greenberg’s Wired article noted that tech firms—including Apple, Twitter, and Reddit—as well as 55 civil liberties groups had opposed the bill, and that, in July 2015, DHS itself warned that the bill would “sweep away privacy protections” while inundating the agency with data of “dubious” value.

In April 2016, Jason R. Edgecombe reported for TechCrunch on the glaring inadequacies of interim guidelines to deal with privacy and civil liberties concerns, while the corporate media silence continued. And in May, Violet Blue wrote for Engadget about candidates’ positions on cyber issues. Only Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul opposed CISA, but it never became the subject of any broader media discussion.
Sources:
Greenberg, Andy, “Congress Slips CISA into a Budget Bill That’s Sure to Pass,” Wired, 2015.
Thielman, Sam, “Congress Adds Contested Cybersecurity Measures to ‘Must-Pass’ Spending Bill,” The Guardian, 2015.
Edgecombe, Jason R. “Interim Guidelines to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act,” TechCrunch, 2016.
Blue, Violet, “Where the Candidates Stand on Cyber Issues,” Engadget, 2016.

100 HEARTBEATS:
The Race to Save Earth’s Most Endangered Species

by Jeff Corwin ( 2009, Rodale)

Reviewed by Richard W. Weiskopf

This book is a must for those who want to learn more about the problems of survival that animals face all over the world. The title refers to critically endangered species and subspecies that have one hundred or fewer individuals in the world today. Jeff Corwin tells in a very personal way of his travels in many parts of the world and of his efforts in behalf of many endangered and disappearing species. He spells out the effects of shrinking and disappearing habitat, global warming, pollution, chemical toxins, human overpopulation, land development, illegal hunting, exploitation as well as oil exploration and development.

Corwin makes an interesting point that I hadn’t thought about: If the species at the top of the food chain is disappearing (such as polar bear, Bengal tiger) this affects all of the many species of the entire food chain — nature’s precarious balance is put out of order, i.e. some species may overpopulate or some may severely decrease.

Again, 100 HEARTBEATS is all the more readable because of the way the author personalizes his experiences. For example, how elated he feels upon returning two cub cheetahs to the wild after a long period of training to help them survive. Species with less than one hundred individuals today include the Javan rhino, Vancouver Is. marmot, Hawaiian crow, Saychelles sheath-tailed bat, and the most endangered feline in the world, the Iberian lynx.

Among others, he describes the struggles of the Bengal tiger, Florida panther, Iberian lynx, giant panda, orangutan. He tells of the prolonged training of an orangutan and the joy of setting him free in the wild. In Indonesia The orangutan is up against loss of habitat to the growing demand for palm oil as well as illegal logging.

Here are some facts that we may not want to know about the magnitude of the problem:
In 2008 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed as critically endangered 3,246 of the 44,838 species assessed. Seventeen of the mammalian species have been reduced to populations of between 350 and 1,000. There are many, many, many thousands of species in our world. Scientists who categorize and track them report the extinction of many thousands each year. Some species exist only in a very small perhaps unique area.
One optimistic note: He mentions that American Bald Eagles have had an amazing recovery over the past thirty years largely due to the banning of DDT.

Corwin places the responsibility on all of us to do what we can to slow the relentless disappearance of our earth’s animals. It is inspiring to witness his devotion and dedication to saving the animals and by doing so helping to save our planet.

****

Richard Weiskopf is a member of People for Animal Rights, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.
LDESTEFANO3@twcny.rr.com, peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org

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