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Archive for the ‘Interpretive Editorial’ Category

A Crude Reality: Oil Fueling Renewables for Capitalist System

In Capitalism, Energy, Interpretive Editorial, Uncategorized on March 6, 2016 at 10:37 am

The new year of 2016 has proven quickly that recession is continuing to prevent us from a working, efficient world economy.  Closely linked to this phenomenon is a rugged, dirty economy that has made its way across the globe through groups of various competitive business owners and oil sucking hopefuls.  While many countries, like India and China; are working their way into an industrialized world economy as working class nation-states within a world economy, the oil industry is still a key resource and non-renewable dependency that globalization is contingent on.  Despite changing thoughts of ethics and morals when it comes to energy, the price of a barrel of oil reached a twelve-year low in the beginning of 2016 and now proves to be the answer to the United States avoiding another recession.  

This January in 2016, at a new ten-year low of $26.55, the price of oil per barrel has now ensured investors security, a basis to a process of expected cleansing and renewal within the dirtiest economy on the face of the planet. The new year seems to be the most volatile market yet as smaller and less efficient oil companies and producers are expected to run out of business.  Capitalism is a key component to this crumbling business economy as the largest corporations will be fit for the long hull with investments secured in studies of gas, bio-fuel and other environmentally sustainable solutions backed by credible research.   Have you made an investment in your own future this year?

Removing the dependency of oil and other non-renewable resources is now a goal of many but also an issue related closely to political chaos and scientific suicide.  Political organizations and candidates alike have been campaigning upon promises and ideas of renewable energy throughout the past decade.  Others have taken the chance to make political gains with hopes that their partisan organization has something in store for them personally because they can deny the effects of global warming and climate change on the television.  Marco Rubio, a Senator from Florida and presidential hopeful has been on Face the Nation twice now, repealing his first denial of scientific climate change by saying, “I do not believe in climate change in the same way some of these people out there are trying to make us believe” (https://youtu.be/aiczDqY-RrI, 0:13).  The Rubio campaign is still a possibility in 2016 as the last major botch from the candidate was when he broke a molar on a frozen Twix bar last week, however; with any more denials of climate change and global warming you can count on the towel from the Rubio campaign in 2016.  

Times are changing, so are candidates; will political organization be next?  Tragedy within the British Petroleum corporation during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill couldn’t stop money from still flowing into Europe’s back pocket, emergency funds from other competitive corporations like British Gas would ensure the production of oils and gases for consumption would be a reality in Europe to support the working world economy.  Importantly; on a serious note, the year 2030 has now become a campaign of itself; demanding alternative energy sources as a point of business that Green Party members throughout the United States hold dear to themselves, as talks in the past between the major political organizations had been marked as a goal for the year 2050!  The reality of the situation is crude larger oil production companies are able to stay in business because of the investments they have in renewable energy sources and research they have done within those fields within the same company.  

It is no secret in today’s world that a good investment into the future can be the saving grace later in life and during retirement.  Prices on the New York Stock Exchange throughout the month of February have also affirmed that the recent prices of a barrel of oil have proven to be a solid investment and answer to the ailing thoughts of another recession. A larger surprise; a record twelve-year low was recorded by Bloomberg Business at $26.14 a barrel this month (http://bloom.bg/1V5MHci).   An article from CNBC explains the situation upon market close, as of four o’clock in the afternoon on February 17th; EST, “US oil closes 1.36% lower, or 40 cents, at $29.04 a barrel” (http://cnb.cx/1WoADDs).  The oil industry is staying active and the continual dependency upon non-renewables like petroleum and liquid natural gas as resources within the process of globalization and industrial globalization is a back bone to the future.  Corporations in the oil industry providing oil services throughout the world are and have been the reason for many things happening around the world; terrorism, just and unjust war but also daily transportation, public transportation and shipping are dependent of oil.     

Right now I would like to invite you all to the battle royal of the lasting oil production and oil service companies in the United States, pay attention in 2016.  As for now we will be watching the most fit oil corporations flex, show their muscles as they endure the competitive nature of the alternative energy age in which all larger oil productions companies, ironically, have investments in new renewable energy concepts and plans for business in the future.  Even though you can think oil is out of the question today as an investment with all the new renewable energy sources, oil sinks to all times lows; many countries are ready to trade and for those who are, it means business as barrels of oil reach highs of $35.00 daily during market hours (http://cnb.cx/1WoADDs). Good luck, dive head first when diving!

Weston Hoy, Syracuse, NY.

Wes holds a degree in Political Science from Syracuse University and is a local peace, justice, race, and economics activist.  

 

Questioning “Winning The Drone War”.

In International, Interpretive Editorial, Military on May 19, 2015 at 9:53 am

“Is the US winning the drone war?”  Doyle McManus poses this question in his  April 30 Post-Standard syndicated column.  It’s a question every U.S. taxpayer and policy maker might ask.

But let’s first define the terms.

What do we mean by “war”? There was a time when war was declared, and mutually visible forces clashed. A time when war entailed risk, sacrifice, and courage. A time when war might entail ideals.

What does it mean to “win” a war? That we get the greater body count? That we demolish the most cities? That we terrorize more of their citizens? That we get to maintain or install their puppet government? That we grab precious resources (oil!) or control more markets, pipe lines, trade routes or cheap labor? That our war machine creates more – otherwise unnecessary and toxic — jobs? That our corporations pile up even more outlandish profit?

There was a time, not so long ago, when winning a war meant foiling the invader, the conqueror, the imperialist, the bully. It meant defending our shores. It meant winning hearts and minds and securing the peace. There was a time when war wasn’t so conveniently “global” or “perpetual.”

McManus tells us drones are “precise,” but fails to resolve the paradox of how it happens that drones incinerate and dismember so many civilians and non-combatants. And he fails to note the hundreds of thousands of tribal people in Afghanistan and Pakistan forced to flee their homes and villages, dreading sudden death from the skies.

McManus tells us that in this drone war, “There’s a lot to like about lethal drones….” But goes on, “as long as you’re the owner, not the target.” Exactly. Not so astutely he claims the lethal drones are “less costly than many of the alternatives including manned bombers and boots on the ground.” He ignores life-serving and more economical alternatives: humanitarian aid; negotiation; discontinuing arms sales – especially to war-torn regions; no longer propping up tyrants and rogue governments; respecting U.N. resolutions and treaties that would reduce hatred toward the U.S.  And embracing treaties to significantly reduce the climate change generating global disruption, migration and strife.

Perhaps McManus’s column is just part 1 of two parts. In part 2 he might define what he means by “terrorist.” This is so readers won’t be left thinking the word only refers to anyone opposing the U.S. war machine, whether foreign or domestic. And in part 2 McManus could tell us about the threat lethal — as well as non-weaponized surveillance — drones pose to civil liberties here in the United States.

Ed Kinane, Syracuse, NY

Kinane is a co-founder of the Upstate Drone Action Coalition [upstatedroneaction.org].

On Extending the Combat Mission in Afghanistan

In Anti-War, International, Interpretive Editorial, Veterans on February 11, 2015 at 11:38 am

Syracuse anti-war activists Barbara Humphrey and Dave Kashmer joined Veterans For Peace (VFP) to express extreme dismay upon learning that President Obama recently extended and expanded the US military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and that the timing of these two actions precluded the opportunity for meaningful public discourse. Shortly after the mid-term election, the President announced that the US would be sending an additional 1,500 troops to Iraq. The following week, the President signed a classified order giving US troops a direct role in combat in Afghanistan despite his promise to the contrary in May, 2014 that “American’s combat mission will be over by the end of the year.” This new Afghan mission, labeled “Resolute Support,” authorizes American troops to carry out missions against the Taliban, Al Qaeda, the Haqqani network and other militants; allows US jets, bombers, and drones to bolster Afghan troops on combat missions; and permits US air strikes in support of Afghan military operations throughout the country. The classified order was signed on a Friday night and leaked to the New York Times, where it appeared on a Saturday shortly before the holidays.

We believe that the US wars in the Middle East, being played out as the “war on terror,” have been an utter failure. After spending billions of dollars to invade and occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, databases kept by the US government and University of Maryland document increased numbers of terrorist attacks in these countries and elsewhere in the world. Yet, the US continues to mislead themselves and the US public that we can win these wars if only we allowed one more “surge.” The Department of Defense has requested $58.3 billion for FY15 for the war in Afghanistan alone, and an additional $7.8 million to beef up airports in Kandahar and Kabul to support night raids (now being called night operations) and drone operations. Imagine if these funds could be directed to repairing deficient highway bridges and fully funding public education here at home!

But we know it isn’t just about the money wasted on military operations, corrupt leaders and defense contractors. The suffering caused by the US war on terror is horrific—civilian deaths at the hands of US forces, thousands displaced from their homes living in squalid refugee camps as winter hits, mothers who cannot feed their children. Afghanistan is devastated after four decades of war. In 2014, more than 8,000 Afghans have committed suicide through self immolation and ingestion of poison. In Kabul, Kathy Kelly, Co-Coordinator for Voices for Creative Nonviolence, reports that 6,000 children are in the streets as child laborers. The recent release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s “Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program” further documents the extreme brutality inflicted on others by the US war on terror.

Veterans for Peace issued a statement dated 11/14/14, immediately following the President’s announcement of increased troop deployment to Iraq, comparing current military action to Vietnam 50+ years ago, “The US government claims that its current occupations are necessary and its objectives clear and winnable while lying about its progress.” Thus far, the achievements of the war on terror have been the strengthening of the Taliban in Afghanistan; creation of the fundamentalist army ISIL in Iraq and Syria; the eruption of bloody, sectarian civil wars in the Middle East that will persist for years to come; and increased terror attacks throughout the world.

Anti-war activists and VFP also take issue with the timing of the announcement of increased deployment of troops to Iraq and issue of the classified order expanding the role of the US military in Afghanistan. A 2013 CNN poll reported that 82% of the American public disapproved of the continued war in Afghanistan. Yet, neither the increased troop deployment nor the classified order were made public until after the election, precluding any meaningful discourse about military operations in the Middle East between the public and Congressional candidates.

It is time for a full public debate on the role of the US military in the Middle East and throughout the world followed by the implementation of policies that offer alternatives to military options that respect the sovereignty of other nations in their struggles to make peace. Perhaps a first step could be renaming the Department of Defense to the Department of Peace.

This statement is issued jointly by anti-war activists, Barbara Humphrey and Dave Kashmer, and Veterans for Peace striving to build a culture of peace in the United States. Veterans For Peace, founded in 1985, is a global organization of military veterans and allies dedicated to exposing the true costs of war and militarism and working to end all wars. Its mission is to inform the public of the true causes and enormous costs of war, with an obligation to heal wars’ wounds. More than 140 VFP chapters educate and advocate for a dismantling of the war economy and providing services to veterans and victims of war. More information about VFP can be found at http://www.veteransforpeace.org/.

What Next, Justice Beyond Grief

In Direct Action, Interpretive Editorial, Racial Justice on December 11, 2014 at 10:15 pm

The amount of media, journalism, and blog articles about Ferguson over the last two weeks has been staggering.  There is no conceivable way to keep up with all the new and forthcoming information.  And that’s too bad because much of it is really really good journalism and analysis.

Of all the pieces that I encountered, two stuck with me because they proposed not just an analysis, but specific actions of solidarity.  Each was shared multiple times and even built upon one another.  The first, Becoming a White Ally to Black People in the Aftermath of the Michael Brown Murder, published at janeewodds.com, presents, in the words of the second article’s authors –

only thinking, reading, contemplating, reframing. While these personal acts are absolutely necessary, they are insufficient. They are not enough, and especially not today. They fall short because they don’t facilitate change, because they don’t hold whiteness accountable, and because they aren’t sufficiently tied into movements of racial justice.”  – 12 Things White People Can Actually Do After the Ferguson Decision – Joseph Osmundson and David J. Leonard

I’ve also seen many many people sharing these articles and making a personal statement or two on Facebook about the Mike Brown killing and the Darren Wilson non-indictment (and now as I write this, the non-indictment in the Eric Garner killing).  In the case of my set of Facebook friends, this generally means solidarity as an ally with non-whites, and enragement at the Grand Jury decisions.

The comments that accompany the posts and articles that most strike me (besides the calls for demilitarization of the police) are the ones that call for jobs, economic development, and citizen engagement from within the ranks of, or from members of, disenfranchised groups.  These things won’t come about solely from facebook clicktivism or protests or marches.  Note: I am not here to diminish these actions.  They are important, and I can’t wait for ensuing marches and rallies that will energize and galvanize.  They allow #GriefFrustrationAndAnger to be expressed, a #GrowingRacialJusticeVoice to be heard, and a chance and a reason for reflection, especially I hope through encouraging #LookingBackAtYourOwnRacistHistory and recognizing how you have been influenced to perhaps look the other way.

I will though offer the following other actions, as a contribution, that you can take to not just deal with the immediate aftermath of the decisions and the resulting emotions, but to bring about necessary “change to laws, to our institutions and how we carry ourselves each and every day” as I riff off of my favorite item from Osmundson and Leonard’s list – “11. Do Something Beyond This Week”.

#ShutItDown may be the new age of civil disobedience, but civil disobedience in itself does not equal change.  Effecting the system, effecting the root causes with root solutions, effecting our own internal revolution and evolution, these are the next steps – Participatory Democracy, Cooperative Economics, Assurance of Basic Needs, Continuing Lifelong Personal Development.

  1. Move your money from a corporate bank to a member-owned community development credit union such as Cooperative Federal.  If you believe that the system is functioning to keep power in the hands of the few who currently have wealth and power, and that police brutality and militarization are facets of the control structures in place too, then divest from those structures, and put your money into the hands of your community and your neighbors.
  2. Become a member owner at Eat-To-Live Food Coop (or Syracuse Real Food Coop).  Similarly to moving your money, move your consumption and your grocery purchases to a member-owned store.  There are currently two choices in Syracuse, the Eat-To-Live Food Coop on South Salina St, and the Syracuse Real Food Cooperative on Kensington St.  Both are run democratically, and revenues stay within the neighborhood, and within the operations of the store itself.
  3. Form your own cooperative business, collective home, or sharing economy project.  Value people over property by putting property and ownership into collective hands.  Examples that currently exist are community gardens, housing coops, and tool shares.  But the possibilities are endless.  Worker cooperatives, in which the individuals who work at a business also own the means of production of the business, are the holy grail of cooperatives. We don’t currently have one worker cooperative in Syracuse, let’s change that.
  4. Know the history of police brutality and corruption locally, and understand what this current racial justice movement is demanding.  I honestly don’t know this history as well as I should, but I hope to keep learning about it until there is no more of it to learn, i.e. we’ve put an end to such violence.  Look to the New York Civil Liberties Union and the United As One Coalition for this information. Read Howard Zinn’s “The People’s History of the United States” to understand the roots of white privilege, beginning with the violent colonization of Native Americans by European settlers. Also, read and be familiar with the demands from the Ferguson Action Group for radical change to the nation’s criminal justice system.  These are the endgame goals that we should be discussing and communicating.  https://www.scribd.com/doc/248655866/Ferguson-Action-Group-s-Demands
  5. Become a digital witness (learn and practice citizen journalism techniques).  If you have a smart-phone, download a live-streaming app and learn how to use it efficiently and in a moment’s notice.  Practice documenting events that the paid media do not show up at, and sharing them with the world.  I currently use Bambuser app on a Galaxy S3 phone, and post via Independent Media CNY.  Ask me how.
  6. Support a political party that supports equality and fairness without qualms.  The Green Party accepts no corporate donations, and puts voluntary caps on individual donations.  This removes special interests from the election and governing processes.  Greens stand with gumption for everyone to have the basic needs to live a dignified life – which would include free education, appropriate housing, health care for all, and public jobs programs for full employment.
  7. Healing and self-care.  We are all human biological and chemical organisms, with limits, and personal struggles and needs, whether they be emotional or physical, outside of the movements and activism we participate in.  Allow yourself time, sleep, creativity, exercise, quiet, poetry – allow rest and peace to enter your heart in stillness and solitude – without guilt.  Build connections through the universal languages of music and art – attend a DFR Tent Revival for Freedom and Democracy performance and jump, dance and sing together.  It takes a village, the weight is not just on your shoulders, nor should it be for a successful revolution to take place, be your brothers keeper, but first be your own.
  8. Share more civic skills, positive value propositions, and alternative consumption models.  Work on voter registration drives and teach about the voting process; conduct a street medic training and create helping roles for people as parts of actions; volunteer with Food Not Bombs to not only feed the hungry but learn how to cook fresh food from scratch; demonstrate a degree of frugality, that demonstrates economic thrift and prudence in the consumption of consumable resources such as food, time or money, and avoids waste, lavishness or extravagance.
  9. Engage in intersectionality with the organizations that work to continue the conversation, not “arrest” it. –  Gratitude to the new Syracuse Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for opening the doors to expanded dialogue without ulterior motive.  The public service and non-profit industrial complexes are similar to capitalism in that they need to feed on competition by being “one-up”  to keep them relevant and flush.  Privatization of public utilities, schools, and healthcare prevent true intersectionality due to the holding and control of power by the capital owners. Understand that intersectionality is not just based on issues horizontally (such as with multi-racial groups or the LGBT community), but also vertically.  The military functions on an international level, just as the police do domestically, to maintain control and prevent people from exerting influence over their own affairs.  Recognize that when groups such as the Syracuse Peace Council are fighting against drone warfare at Hancock Air Base here in Syracuse, they are fighting against the same system of oppression.
  10. Contact your elected representatives directly and personally.  After you show up at a march or rally en masse, send an email, make a telephone call, mail a letter to, or knock on the door of those same exact public representatives that you were trying to get the attention of.  Tell them you were outside their office with that crowd of people, and reinforce your demands, wants, needs, and goals as an individual who is part of a movement.

I had put off writing this piece for days and days as I let the realities and the perspectives sink in, and as I watched and learned what was happening around me.  I clapped and chanted as I live-streamed one of the biggest and most successful displays of public power that I have seen in my time in Syracuse – the “I Can’t Breathe” Syracuse March for Justice on Monday December 8th that saw community and campus in unison (thanks to the strong showing of THE General Body coming off of campus).  I was eager to know what was next. I was disappointed by the low turnout (compared to the march and rally) at the following evenings’ community forum on “Syracuse, Ferguson, Gaza: Rebellion is a Right” at New Salem Baptist Church, but optimistic that folks were in their own neighborhoods taking action.  Many of you are likely aware of many of the tasks and actions I outlined above, and are likely even engaging in them.  But many of the people who were out at the march are probably not aware, and I especially dedicate this to harnessing their energy.

Journalist Chris Hedges recently called for professional revolutionists, and claims that civil disobedience is “the only mechanism left that offers hope for systematic legal and judicial reform”.  I would agree, but the rise of a professional revolutionist class will be difficult, especially while putting food on our own tables – because as far as I know right now the job listings for professional revolutionist are few and far between, if at all.  So I would encourage you to harness the thought that “mass acts of civil disobedience” include the actions I have discussed above (as well as others that aren’t included here), and are not just limited to marches and sit-ins and professional revolutionists.   Don’t give up your power, use it via ballot, brawn, or buying power.  Use your power as Everyday Revolutionists for connecting, and for loving, to overcome the current differences that manifest as status and class.

Interpretive Editorial: The Perversion of “Protection” in U.S. Courts

In Drones, Firearms, Interpretive Editorial on July 17, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Orders of protection are notoriously difficult to secure. They have also proven to be a largely inadequate way to shield people at risk of violence, especially from those in their intimate circle. We have only to look at the case of Ron Lee Haskell. After assaulting his wife in 2008 and violating an order of protection in recent years, Haskell armed himself last week in Spring, Texas and allegedly murdered Katie Stay, his ex-wife’s sister, and all but one member of Stay’s immediate family (six, in all). Stay and her family refused to disclose the location of Haskell’s ex-wife, Melanie, and they paid with their lives.

In at least one media report, police acknowledge that Haskell was not prosecuted for recent violations against his ex-wife. According to another report, Haskell’s own mother petitioned for an order of protection after he assaulted her for daring to contact his ex-wife in early July. One need not be a feminist to notice the failure of powerful legal institutions to end the threat of daily violence that women endure, here and around the world.

In light of failures like this, it is truly extraordinary that our courts are now using orders of protection to shield the most powerful military in the world from peaceful dissidents here in our own community. In 2012, Judge Gideon awarded an order of protection to Colonel Earl Evans at Hancock Air Base, in an effort to stifle a campaign of nonviolent resistance among those opposed to the use of drones in the “war on terror.” Mary Anne Grady Flores is one of the protestors against whom Evans secured a temporary order. In an effort to honor the temporary order, she chose not to participate in a subsequent protest but, rather, to photograph the event. Those who participated in the protest were acquitted of all charges. Then, on July 10, Flores was sentenced to a year in prison.

Somehow, the U.S. judiciary is treating Flores as though she poses a greater threat of violence than did Ron Lee Haskell. The irony is, of course, that Colonel Evans routinely perpetrates more violence than even the bloodthirsty Haskell.

When we step out of the wonderland of U.S. courts, we see clearly that Flores stands in the way of violence. Indeed, she champions nonviolence. For this, she has lost her freedom. Conversely, Ron Lee Haskell openly championed violence and was rewarded with freedom. Colonel Evans, meanwhile, practices violence as an institutional prerogative, and, as a result, thousands of Pakistani civilians have lost their lives and the rest of us have lost our freedom.

Feminists don’t all agree on the precise relationship between everyday violence against women and broader forms of institutional violence. But we don’t need consensus to honor the courage and commitment of Katie Stay who gave her life to protect her sister and Mary Anne Grady Flores who gave her freedom so that we can see how little we have left. In the names of Stay and Flores, I urge you to confront all the institutional forms of violence that fray women’s freedom and endanger our lives. But don’t go it alone. Join one of those small groups of thoughtful, committed citizens Margaret Mead invoked, or create one in your own favorite institution. Then, with the new tools you’ll make, change your favorite institutions, plank by plank. And… hurry, because when unarmed grandmothers are imprisoned to protect colonels armed with reapers, there’s no refuge left from the storm.

Contributor: Maureen F. Curtin, Onondaga Hill