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Month: May 2016

Aquatic ‘First Responders’ Form Mosquito Fleet To Halt Climate Change & Shell Oil

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

After years of marches and land-based blockades, environmental activists are now taking to the seas to stop the growth of the fossil fuel industry and protest the environmental threats facing them.

Inspired by actions last year against Shell Oil Co.’s plans to drill in the Arctic Circle, which included a kayak-based blockade, activists in the Pacific Northwest are forming a new “Mosquito Fleet” — a swarm of tiny boats that they hope will have a big impact by acting together.

Lois Canright, a fleet member who recently completed her first action, told MintPress News, “To me, the most important thing that I can do for me and everyone on this planet is to try and lower emissions down and to try to throw some wrenches into the fossil fuel infrastructure, especially because they’re trying to expand it in our region.”

The fleet took to the waters earlier this month, joining an effort by Break Free PNW to halt traffic from major fossil fuel export terminals operated by Shell Oil and Tesoro, another fossil fuel giant, at March Point in Anacortes, Washington, on the Puget Sound in the Salish Sea.

Remember The ‘Used & Betrayed’ Veterans Subjected To Horrific Experimentation

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

Every Memorial Day, American leaders make passionate speeches about their love and admiration for the sacrifices made by the country’s brave military veterans.

“There’s no phrase U.S. politicians love more than ‘support the troops,’” journalist Abby Martin declared on a recent episode of her show, “The Empire Files.”

Yet, as Martin noted, “A dark hidden history shows that [politicians are] no friend to service members, but rather their greatest enemy. An easy way to prove this is to look at how quickly they abandon their soldiers after ruining their lives, even after using them as literal lab rats.”

‘Chilling Attack On Free Speech’: Multinational Corporation Sues Gov’t Transparency Watchdog MuckRock

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

A popular website dedicated to government transparency is facing legal threats from a multinational corporation that hopes to block publication of documents related to their electricity meters.

MuckRock helps researchers, journalists, and normal citizens obtain government documents through Freedom of Information Act requests, or their local equivalent under state laws, then publicly shares the results. Earlier this month, the site surpassed one million documents shared.

In April, Phil Mocek, a Seattle-based software engineer, used the site to file an open records request with Seattle City Light, the local power company, seeking information relating to the security of smart power meters the city purchased from Landis+Gyr, a multinational owned by Toshiba.

On Wednesday, Landis+Gyr notified MuckRock that the company was suing in the Superior Court of Washington for King County to block the release of the records.

New Law Could Empower Disabled To Live Independent Lives

Posted in Austin, Journalism, and Truthout

“A good 75 percent of us were arrested on the first day,” says disability rights activist Danny Saenz, laughing as he recalls a direct action he was part of in the early 1990s, soon after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Saenz and other activists with disabilities had traveled to Orlando, Florida, for the annual convention of the American Health Care Association, the most powerful nursing home lobbying group in the country.

“We went to their hotel and we took it over, and the whole bunch of us were rounded up and we spent three days in jail,” he told Truthout.

Saenz has been a member of the disability rights group ADAPT for over 25 years, and that day in Florida was just one of many times he’s been arrested while protesting for civil rights, often after having chained his wheelchair to other activists.

In our interview, Saenz — from Austin, Texas — is genial and soft-spoken, but he says that at protests, he and his allies are anything but quiet. “Our chant as we were fixing to get arrested was ‘We’d rather go to jail than die in a nursing home,'” he said.

More than two decades after that protest, hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities are still in nursing homes, where their movement may be highly restricted, even when they could be living more independent lives with the right support from their communities.

Come To Guantanamo & See The Iguanas: Snowden Files Offer Glimpse Inside NSA Culture

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

Water skiing in the morning, supervising the torture of a prisoner of the global war on terror in the afternoon — that’s just a typical day for National Security Agency personnel.

That’s one of the many glimpses of National Security Agency life found in newly released documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden’s leaks, which reveal the NSA’s intimate involvement with Guantanamo Bay interrogations and the Iraq War, as well as the dramatically increased demand for intelligence after 9/11.

On May 16, The Intercept released 166 new documents from the thousands leaked by Snowden, comprising a partial archive of an internal electronic newsletter called SIDtoday.

In an introduction to the release, Peter Maass describes the publication as resembling a “small-town newsletter” for the Signals Intelligence Directorate, one of the most important departments within the NSA. SIDtoday opens a window into the NSA’s internal corporate culture, and because they were written purely for NSA employees, the documents include some surprisingly candid disclosures about employees’ actions around the world from an underground bunker in Belgium to Guantanamo Bay and the Middle East.

Inside The Fight To Protect Face-To-Face Visitation For Prisoners

Posted in Austin, Journalism, and The Establishment

When you’re behind bars, “there’s something psychologically uplifting about knowing someone is coming to visit you,” Jorge Renaud explained.

Renaud is an organizer with Grassroots Leadership and Texas Advocates for Justice who spoke with me by phone from Austin, Texas. He told me that unless you’ve been incarcerated, you can’t understand the emotional impact of a visit from a friend or loved one. His voice vibrated with emotion as he recalled those desperately needed visits, his tone expressing more than words could say.

This crucial connection with the outside world is endangered around the country, as more and more prisons and jails install video visitation systems. While the technology theoretically offers a new way to connect with prisoners—for those who can afford it—jails across the nation are also doing away with in-person visitation entirely, in favor of relying exclusively on these video visitations.