Archive for August, 2011

Ending Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining in Appalachia

57% of informed voters oppose the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining, versus 20% approving.

And even more astoundingly, when asked about increasing Clean Water protections on mountaintop removal, 78% of respondents supported increasing Clean Water Act protections, with just 9% opposing.

This announcement comes on the heels of a national poll released by CNN last week, showing that Americans across the country oppose mountaintop removal 57% to 36%.
These two polls give us great leverage to demand that our elected officials follow their moral compass, follow the science, and follow regional and national public opinion by ending mountaintop removal. Please take a moment to write your congressperson about this poll to make sure that they see these figures.

For the Mountains,
Matt Wasson

P.S. — Please help us spread the word on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.


Insurrection of the Masses. Darcus Howe on the British Riots

Darcus Howe, was part of the the first acknowledgment from a British judge that there was racial hatred in the Metropolitan Police Service, which came after a 1970 protest got out of hand. Now, 40 years later, Howe brings us the point “Mark Dugan – he has parents, he has brothers, he has sisters. A police officer blew his head off.” He talks of recent UK police actions “They have been stopping and searching young blacks for no reason at all.” Including his grandson who has been pulled over and searched so many times he can’t remember them all.

This is a wake up call to the deep distrust between black communities and the police in many cities. It’s not so easy to explain the violence of the past few days. It began in the north London neighborhood of Tottenham, the catalyst was the killing by police of a black man. The questions are uncomfortable. Is this just mindless violence? or has London failed to address deep social problems that it thought belonged to the past?

The key issue here is the mixture of policies that have combined to make an explosive community in N. London. Firstly most rioters are young males – they are suffering disproportionate unemployment and things like abolishing EMA and student fees has alienated them from the economy. Secondly cuts in housing benefits in particular amount of “social cleansing” of inner cities of the poor, plus other benefits cuts. Thirdly the devaluation of the £ has driven up inflation for food, energy and petrol, so there is a big squeeze on most people who are really feeling the pinch. Many living in these areas are also public sector workers, who are bearing a disproportionate share of spending cuts and job loses.

The following is a post by a graphic designer at Haiz Design firm from London:
Living in London, UK, and very close to the scene of the start of the riots, I have been very aware of the events unfolding around us recently, so I am taking a small diversion from the usual content to share my thoughts on the matter. The last few days of rioting and looting really have been shocking, and one of the first televised scenes that made it all the more disturbing was the building in Tottenham, right next to my partner’s workplace up in flames! This is 10 minutes away from our house and the Wood Green riots and looting that followed are right on our doorstep, so the helicopters were very low and flying over continually. People have lost their homes and livelihoods and in some cases, lives. It has been utterly tragic.

Seeing it unfold on subsequent nights and spill over to other parts of the country has been quite alarming – like some surreal movie playing out on the streets. Everyone I speak to is anxious that this is not over, in spite of the very public naming and shaming and large-scale arrests taking place. We have had extra police units drafted in to London, with16,000 police on patrol over the last couple of nights. They must be exhausted and naturally, we wonder how much longer they will be there and what happens when they relax their presence… Communities, particularly Sikh and Muslim, are coming out in force and taking charge of their streets, so we are not far from a vigilante culture. Interestingly, the press have been saying how the faith-based communities, in particular the Muslims, are modelling the behaviour we want to see. What a turnabout, as only a very short while ago they were seen as potential terrorists and a race to be feared!

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Surface Mining is Destroying Communities: Take A Stand.

Right now, two important mountains are slated for destruction in Southern West Virginia and we need your help. This week the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is taking comments on the renewal of the now expired Camp Branch Permit on Blair Mountain, as well as the Beetree Surface Mine Permit on Coal River Mountain.

If approved, these surface mines would not only contribute the destruction of nearby communities by jeopardizing the health and economies of the people living beneath them, but these two mountains have become the line in the sand for our movement.

Thousands have now raised their voices to protect Coal River Mountain and Blair Mountain. We can’t lose momentum now! Please do your part and join us in the fight to protect these communities and save these important places.

Stop Mountain Top Removal

Stop Mountain Top Removal: Destroying Mountains, Rivers, Streams, and Our Childrens Future


Take Action Now!

Submit comments for Coal River Moutnain by August 9th –
Sumbit comments for Blair Mountain by August 13th –

In 1921, 10,000 workers marched on Blair Mountain to demand basic labor rights in the largest armed uprising in the nation apart from the Civil War. Just two months ago, 1,000 people gathered in Southern West Virginia to march on the same mountain as part of the Appalachia Rising March on Blair Mountain, demanding that the mountain be preserved and rightly recognized as a National Historic Place.

Just weeks later, two tree sitters began an occupation of Coal River Mountain, which as a result, have stopped blasting on the mountain for over two weeks. This occupation is ongoing as part of the RAMPS Campaign, and continues to prevent blasting on Coal River Mountain.

Over 500 mountains have been destroyed in Appalachia due to mountaintop removal. For the safety of the citizens of Blair and those in the Coal River Valley, please take action today and help us prevent these two mountains from being added to that list.

Thanks for all that you do!

Matt Wasson


Hiroshima 2011 — The People Became Nothing

by Vincent Scotti Eirene
on behalf of the Pittsburgh Catholic Worker

Thomas Merton and the Nuclear Era

On Sunday afternoon “Little Boy” was brought out in procession and devoutly tucked away in the womb of Enola Gay. That evening few were able to sleep. They were as excited as little boys on Christmas Eve. At 3:09 they reached Hiroshima and started the bomb run. The city was full of sun. The fliers could see the green grass in the gardens. No fighters rose up to meet them. There was no flack. No one in the city bothered to take cover. The bomb exploded within 100 feet of the aiming point. The fireball was 18,000 feet across. The temperature at the center of the fireball was 100,000,000 degrees. The people who were near the center became nothing. The whole city was blown to bits and the ruins all caught fire instantly everywhere, burning briskly. 70,000 people were killed right away or died within a few hours. Those who did not die at once suffered great pain. Few of them were soldiers. —from “the original child bomb” a poem by Thomas Merton


I started my  two mile trek thru farm with a home made ladder spray painted black so as not to reflect the light. a herd of cows came racing up to me, looked at me with curiosity and  I whispered to them “I am doing this for you too”. Realizing I had no food for them, the cows ran away sounding like thunder. I nervously looked up at the guard tower and noticed the search light had stopped strafing the field, aha the guard had fallen asleep. I moved quickly now, but steady. I hit the first fence, leaned up the ladder gently, and felt like I flew up and over the fence and razor wire. Once I hit the ground the motion detectors set of the alarms and the sleepy facility came to life.


Out of nowhere came 36 marines screaming, “do not move, just give me an excuse boy”. Out the dark a voice ordered me to remove my coat, to knell down, to put my hands behind my back and to cross my legs behind me. The last odd order caused a painful cramp in my leg and I fell onto my coat. The voice from the dark night screamed, “away from your coat, away from your coat”. I scurried backwards like a hermit crab. It was January 1st 1986, the cold war seemed endless and I had trespassed on our nations only nuclear bomb factory, Pantex nuclear bomb factory  in Amarillo, Texas. My punishment for this intrusion was a year in prison. I served 10 months. The cold war ended but a sense of futurelessness did not…

1986 to 2011
Decades would go by. Anti-nuclear resisters migrated to anti-iraq war activities and the environment, but nuclear weapons never sleep, nor do they need an enemy. So under the START treaty the “rehabbing” of aging nuclear weapons was allowed (read making new weapons). The new Pantex, the new nuclear bomb factory in Kansas City, Missouri, did not come out of nowhere, but is part of decades of research about the improving of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, including unmanned flying vehicle—drones developed at CMU.

Today the new Pantex is secretly preparing the produce new nuclear weapons

the thousands of nuclear weapons sitting in world arsenals are the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War.

As this goes to press several new nuclear resisters have been released at their trial for crossing the line at hell’s new kitchen. The judge stated, “I agree with you go and do more”! The Kansas City Plant is responsible for the production and assembly of approximately 85 percent of the non-nuclear components for the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The plant is due to be relocated starting in 2012. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Energy, has said the new facility will carry an estimated price tag of $673 million for construction. The city government has subsidized the facility’s construction with $815 million in municipal bonds. Once completed, it is thought the new Kansas City Plant will be the first nuclear weapons complex in the world to be owned by a city government. The new Kansas City facility is one of several where new nuclear weapons projects are underway. The new Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project at Los Alamos, N.M., is also under construction, and a new uranium processing facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn. is in the final stages before approval.

RIKUZENTAKATA, Japan—In the quiet hours just after dawn, Yasumori Matsuzaka drives through the ruins of his hometown, past the gutted hospital and the mounds of splintered wood and shattered concrete.The object of his pilgrimage: a tree. The solitary pine, which towers 100 feet above this pulverized city’s waterfront, is all that’s left of a grove of roughly 70,000 trees that once lined the beach here, and which his ancestors helped plant more than two centuries ago.
It has become a national symbol of Japan’s tenacity, clinging to life amid the destruction of the March 11 tsunami, which killed more than 20,000 people and laid waste to entire communities along the country’s northeast coast.
July 9, 2011 wall street journal
The lone pine, to me,  symbolizes the peace movement. With the US involved in four wars, the movement is exhausted— the drones bombing pakistan, the continuing wars in iraq and afganistan, the “humanitarian bomb” of lybia, now the revealing of new nuclear weapons production. To what end? For what enemy? But we rush in to save the lone pine…

Stop the Machine: The Government is not For the People.

The Government is for Corporations not for People.
Capitalism is organized crime. Congress is not for the people.
Stop the Machine! Create a New World.,

Freedom Plaza: October 6 2011, Washington DC

Civil Disobedience is the only option we have left to save not only the ecosystem that sustains life, but the nation itself. Corporate forces, unregulated, unfettered corporate forces exploit everything, human beings, the natural world, until exhaustion or collapse. Karl Marx was right. unregulated unfettered capitalism is a revolution force and it is the radicals that have seized control and know no limits. The only thing, the only word, corporations know is MORE. And they have seized all of the formal traditional mechanisms of power – the legislative branch, the judicial branch, the executive branch, as well as the attendant institutions that once made participatory democracy possible including the press, including a destruction of labor a diminishing and degradation of a public education system that once made it possible for citizens to discern and articulate their own interests. It is imperitive that all of us now stand up because we have very little time left.

We Stand With the Majority of Americans: Human Needs, Not Corporate Greed

The ecosystem itself is being ravaged at a rate that was not even predicted a few years ago by the best climate scientist. We don’t have much time left. The internal reconfiguration of the United States into a form of neo-feudalism a world of masters and serfs – a world were 2/3 of the country will live at a level of subsistence where they will struggle to provide enough food for their families to eat is the inevitable result of the corporate state and globalization. It is imperitive upon all of us to begin to realize that the institutions that we once trusted including the democratic party to watch out for our interests have become nothing more than puppets – appendages of the corporate state. We are the last thin line of defense between the disintegration of our country, between corporate forces which in theological terms are systems of death who will snuff out any possibility of a sustainable and livable future for our children. It is only by standing up, using our bodies, in acts of civil disobedience that we have any hope of thwarting the freight train of destruction that is now barreling towards up driven by the engine of corporatism and so I call on all of you please, it’s not about us anymore, it’s about our kids, it’s about our kids kids, it’s about our failure to stand up and protect the earth and protect the nation from forces that will inevitably, if we don not stop them, make life for millions and millions of people a nightmare. Sign the pledge October 2011.


30 Years Ago Today: The Day the Middle Class Died

…a letter from Michael Moore
Friday, August 5th, 2011

From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, “When did this all begin, America’s downward slide?” They say they’ve heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent’s income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how “lowly” your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated.

On the 17th of September, we want to see 20,000 people to flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand for radical and immediate change in a plurality of voices, following the example set by our Egyptian brothers and sisters in Tahrir Square.

The time has come to deploy this emerging stratagem against the greatest corrupter of our democracy: Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America.

Young people have heard of this mythical time — but it was no myth, it was real. And when they ask, “When did this all end?”, I say, “It ended on this day: August 5th, 1981.”

Beginning on this date, 30 years ago, Big Business and the Right Wing decided to “go for it” — to see if they could actually destroy the middle class so that they could become richer themselves.

And they’ve succeeded.

On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired every member of the air traffic controllers union (PATCO) who’d defied his order to return to work and declared their union illegal. They had been on strike for just two days.

It was a bold and brash move. No one had ever tried it. What made it even bolder was that PATCO was one of only three unions that had endorsed Reagan for president! It sent a shock wave through workers across the country. If he would do this to the people who were with him, what would he do to us?


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