Friday, November 30, 2012

Maritime Maneuvers

As noted in the November 27 article at the San Juan Islander, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has received a petition to delist the Orca whales of the San Juan archipelago under the Endangered Species Act. The petition was submitted by the California-based Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), one of several right-wing legal foundations in the US founded by industry magnates to undermine civil rights, environmental protection and occupational safety. A number of personnel from these legal foundations found employment in the Reagan/Bush cabinets, including US Attorney General Ed Meese, and Interior Secretaries James Watt and Gail Norton.

PLF, originally funded by the California Chamber of Commerce, was active in undermining the Growth Management Act in Washington state, serving as legal counsel during the 1990s to property rights activists in Puget Sound. I noted their involvement with these hooligans in my memoir Blind Spots.

While the Pacific Legal Foundation petition to remove protections from the endangered Orcas might just be part of their ordinary daily business, I suspect it might also have something to do with the proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal coal export facility, that would bring an additional 487 bulk cargo vessels to the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve via Haro Strait and Boundary Pass--a mammoth project that would have profound impacts on the endangered Chinook salmon and Orca whales. Based on experience, that would fit with the PLF strategy, mission and purpose.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Season of the Witch

Season of the Witch, by David Talbot, is a must read for San Franciscans and anyone interested in how a new culture was born in the City of Love that still reverberates throughout the world today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Zero 2020

Toward Freedom examines San Francisco as a waste management role model.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Mar Overcomes Landlords

As an analyst involved in the 2000 electoral defeat of San Francisco landlords, I was pleased to see my pro-tenant friend Eric Mar returned to the Board of Supervisors, despite an $800,000 investment by the landlords to defeat him. Yet another New College alumnus keeping San Francisco tenant-friendly.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Cole's Coal

In the interest of full disclosure, prior to my transition to Bay Area citizen, I was an environmental activist in the Salish Sea–an area that includes the San Juan Islands, midway between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. As such, I came to know the Lummi Indians, as well as a corporate politico by the name of Craig Cole, who, at present, is a mouthpiece for international shipping companies hoping to transport coal from Cherry Point to China (through the Lummi salmon and crab fishing grounds), on behalf of Goldman Sachs and their subsidiary SSA Marine. While Cole and his Wall Street employers are entitled to their view, their inflammatory deceptions create unnecessary social discord.

During the salmon war between Salish Sea tribes and the State of Washington in the mid-1970s, I worked as an Alaska Fishermen’s Union salmon tender captain for New England Fish Company based in La Conner. My route was from there past the Anacortes San Juan Islands Ferry Landing to Friday Harbor, through Pole Pass skirting Orcas Island out to Stuart Island, then back to Griffin Bay and La Conner. This area is located in the center of the upper right map insert showing the American and Canadian shipping lanes. The NOAA chart for Boundary Pass (the route to Cherry Point between the Gulf Islands and San Juan Islands), provides a detailed description of hazards and aids to navigation.

Perhaps of interest to historians, in 1977, environmentalists working with then U.S. Senator Warren G. Magnuson of Washington, made supertankers off-limits to Puget Sound (now part of the recently-designated Salish Sea), requiring the permissible smaller oil tankers to have double hulls and tug escorts. Now, thirty-five years later, the proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point, which predicts 487 bulk carrier vessels per year, could circumvent those protections.

As Matt Krogh reported in the February 22, 2012 issue of Cascadia Weekly, these bulk carriers have the "worst safety record of any commercial vessels on the high seas." To make matters worse, the bulk carriers -- double the size of the oil tankers now allowed in the Salish Sea -- are a mix of single and double hull, and exempt from requirements for tug escorts. Carrying 2 million gallons of bunker fuel each, these bulkers are a disaster waiting to happen. Even if they avoid grounding or collision, the loading and ballasting spells doom for the ecosystem of the Salish Sea.

For those who might be inclined, I left a comment on the San Francisco Chronicle article about Cherry Point coal shipping that hopefully clarifies the present conflict. As I remarked in my editorial at Intercontinental Cry, Wall Street’s attempt to pit indigenous peoples and environmentalists against organized labor and local governments hoping to cash in on the final wasting of the planet, is both disingenuous and inexcusable. Additional information about tribal interests and concerns can be found at the Coast Salish Gathering webpage on the transport and export of U.S. energy.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Above the Law

In 2006, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein sponsored a bill to make activism against corporations illegal. Unable to push it through under President Bush, she had to wait for that year’s keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention to become president before her dreams of a totalitarian state could begin to come true. With the 2010 arrests by Homeland Security of anti-war and environmental activists for the crime of showing documentary films criticizing the arms and energy industries, Feinstein was in seventh heaven.

Today, as Obama seeks another term as president, Abby Martin interviews author and journalist Will Potter about recent US federal law enforcement targeting of anti-corporate activists, using terrorism legislation and secret grand juries to intimidate and incarcerate people who’ve committed no crime. In another interview at Escape Velocity Radio, Potter talks about direct action environmental activists who’ve received multi-year prison sentences for non-violent crimes under the new terrorism laws.

As someone who has personally been intimidated by FBI agent threats, Potter notes that by making environmental activists political prisoners, and torturing them with solitary confinement in special Communications Management Units where they are denied human contact, the government is singling them out for human rights abuse by federal prosecutors precisely because of their success at inspiring public involvement and opposition to corporate wasting of the planet. Observing that actual domestic terrorists who commit murder because of their political beliefs — like anti-abortion activists and militias — are merely charged with the crimes they commit, without enhanced sentences for terrorism, Potter says this is because they don’t interfere with corporate profits.

As federal prosecutors and law enforcement escalate their harassment of anti-war, pro-environment, pro-democracy activists attempting to influence domestic and foreign policy, public involvement in movements like #Occupy is bound to wane. As corporations continue to push politicians toward their goal of total corporate control of government and absolute repression of dissent, the defense of civil and human rights will inevitably move from the courts to the streets.

As noted at Defending Dissent, where dissent is a crime, there is no freedom.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Identity in America

Although I grew up in Washington state, I have identified with San Francisco since I was in little league listening to Giants baseball. I even wore a SF ball cap and had Willie Mays/Willie McCovey playing cards. Later, as a teenager, I visited the Filmore Auditorium, a mecca of psychedelic rock music.

As an adult, I returned to make my claim on the birthplace of the American Indian Movement and The Grateful Dead. Then, as a scholar at New College in the SF Mission District, I became friends with Harry Britt, Harvey Milk's right hand man during the hay day of Gay Liberation.

At the Mill Valley film festival, when I was living in Blithedale Canyon, I bumped into Joan Baez and Yoko Ono. Identity in America is an interesting phenomenon.