Michael Riordon

the view from where I live


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DAPL and DNB: good news

dapl-direct-action

Resisting the machine

DNB, the largest bank in Norway, has just sold its assets in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).  Reports are unclear on the extent and nature of these assets (or maybe I just don’t know how to translate financialese).  However, by all accounts the assets dumped by the bank are substantial.

Further, DNB is now considering the withdrawal of its loans to the project as well, which would leave a major gap in the project’s financing.

A first crack in the banking wall, DNB’s move is a direct result of steadfast resistance to the invading pipeline by the besieged Standing Rock Sioux and their allies, and escalating public pressure on the banks to divest from it.

This week from the Sacred Stone Camp, ground zero, comes a stark breakdown of why Energy Transfer Partners (the DAPL perpetrators) are pushing so aggressively to complete construction.

The stakes are incalculable: on one side, billions of dollars in profits, on the other side, survival.

Contact information for the CEOs of DAPL and other Bakken pipeline-complicit banks is here.  If you bank with one of them, how about letting them know you might not?

 


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We have to stop.

arctic-ice-1989

Image: NASA/Goddard.

Have a look at this time lapse animation, the life of Arctic ice from 1989 to the present.  It’s calmly explained by a sea ice researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

How he remains calm, I have no idea.

We have to stop.  Stop gorging on fossil fuels.  Fuels made from our ancestors, all the life that came before us.  The fossils are running out.  So is the ice.  So is life, and time.

I’m not saying anything new here.  But it can’t be said often enough, or loud enough.  We have to make them stop:

  • fracking
  • tar sands extraction
  • deep sea drilling
  • Arctic drilling
  • moving crude oil by pipelines (another one blew up this week in Alabama)
  • moving crude oil by train (another one derailed and 11 oil-filled cars burned in Oregon’s Columbia River gorge, this past June)
  • moving crude oil by ship (another one loaded with diesel oil sank off Heiltsuk First Nation territory in British Columbia mid-October)
  • subsidizing fossil fuels at our expense and the earth’s
  • displacing/killing people and other beings (some slowly, some in a flash) to get at fossil fuels
  • making war after war to control fossil fuels, and to continue fueling the war machine
  • burning fossil fuels as if there was no tomorrow, and no alternative.

It can’t be said often enough, or loud enough.  We have to stop.  And start…

Start points are everywhere – personal, local, regional, national, global, online, on the ground. Like this one:  Justice and Equity in a 100% Renewable World: a  live online conversation.  November 10, 2016, 10:00am Pacific/ 1:00pm Eastern.  Details here.

Or this:  Corporate and government response to the west coast diesel spill off Heiltsuk First Nation (see above, ‘moving crude oil by ship’) has been shamefully slow and lax.  The Heiltsuk people are fund-raising online to do research on the extent of damage to their coast and fishing grounds, essential for their survival.  Details here.

Or this:  Haven’t got around to accosting the big banks that finance the Dakota Access Pipeline?  The online grassroots organization SumOfUs has just made it a lot easier.  They also include a list of other practical ways to support the resistance to DAPL.  Details here.

 


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Dakota: Plain greed vs land, water & life

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Standing Rock, North Dakota: Land of the free.

As early winter chills the Dakota plains, a brutal war continues to escalate against Indigenous people defending land, water and life from the invading Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).  The pipeline is meant to carry 500,000 barrels of toxic crude oil per day from North Dakota to Illinois.  From years of bitter experience, catastrophic spills should be expected.

The project has faced determined resistance for months from the Standing Rock Sioux and members of nearly 100 indigenous peoples from across the U.S. and Canada.  They carry on a centuries’ long struggle against colonial invasion and violence throughout the Americas.

By now 100s of defenders have been arrested, clubbed, pepper-sprayed, and maced.  Updates here, and here.

Solidarity protests are being held and planned across the US and in Canada.  For those of us who care but are unable to participate, action is still possible:

Behind the uniformed bullies with their military and chemical weapons, attack dogs, sound-cannons, assault vehicles and helicopters, lurk corporate oil/gas plunderers (in this case aka “Energy Transfer Partners”), and behind them hired governments, and behind them all, the international banking mafia safe in their glittering towers.

As well as raking in massive subsidies from governments, the pipeline builders also need major financing from banks.  According to researchers at the US nonprofit Food & Water Watch, the $3.8 billion DAPL is financed by 17 banks in the US, Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Holland, Switzerland and Norway.  All of them have the power to determine who gets financing and for what.

Contact information for the CEOs of DAPL-complicit banks is here.

Among them are three Canadian banks.  One of them, TD (indicated by *), is directly complicit in the Dakota pipeline, and all three of them provide financial backing to the vast Bakken pipeline network, of which DAPL is one piece.

CEO contact information:

* TD Securities.  Chairman, CEO, and President Bob Dorrance.

Corporate Office: P.O. Box 1, TD Bank Tower, 66 Wellington Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5K 1A2.

Investment Banking: 416-307-8500
Equity Research: 416-307-9360
Trading Floor Enquiries: 416-944-6978

U.S. Office: 31 West 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019-6101.  212-827-7000.

Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank).  CEO and President Brian J. Porter.

Corporate Office: Scotia Plaza, 44 King Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5H 1H1.
416-866-6161.  email@scotiabank.com

U.S. Office: 250 Vesey Street, 23rd and 24th floors, New York, NY 10281.  212-225-5000

Scotia Howard Weil (“Energy Investment Boutique”): Energy Centre, 1100 Poydras Street, Suite 3500, New Orleans, LA 70163.  504-582-2500 and 800-322-3005.  howardweil@howardweil.com

Royal Bank of Canada/RBC.  CEO David I. McKay.

CEO and Board Communications: Paul French.  paul.french@rbc.com.  416-974-3718.

Corporate Media Relations: Catherine Hudon, catherine.hudon@rbc.com.  416-974-5506.

Corporate Address: 200 Bay Street P.O. Box 1, Royal Bank Plaza, Toronto, Canada.
416-974-5151 and 416-842-2000

 

 


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Act now or get out of the way.

100 percent possible, the march

Ottawa, Canada, November 29, 2015.

On a grey, chilly day, 25,000 of us (give or take a few) took to the streets of the national capitol.  Beautifully diverse in race, origin, faith, age, gender, orientation, and politics, we sent one message to those in power: Climate solutions and climate justice = 100% Possible. 100% renewables by 2050 = 100% possible.  Act now or get out of the way.

If you ask me, 2050 is too far away. So easy for slippery politicians to say, “2050? Why not, whatever…” But that’s just me, quibbling.

I suspect there are few illusions among this crowd as to what we face: a towering, apparently seamless wall of greed, governments bought and sold, rampant corruption, fear and inertia.  By hook or by crook, the arrogant few inside the castle control the levers of power and will do whatever it takes to hold onto them.

One example: In France the government used the recent attacks in Paris as an excuse to ban all public demonstrations at COP21, the glamourous big stage where ‘world leaders’ aired their platitudes this week, while groveling to their corporate sponsors.  Citizens who defied the ban – public protest being one of the few levers we still have – were tear-gassed by police then truckloads of them were arrested.  The authorities also house-arrested climate justice activists, and then a lawyer who tried to appeal the protest ban in court.

This tyranny was imposed, and will continue to be imposed, in the name of anti-terrorism.  This is the “democracy” that the authorities claim to defend.

But: With the earth’s life support systems under sustained corporate assault and engineered wars, fully backed by virtually every government on the planet, as humanity and our neighbours sink into ever deepening harm and peril, it only takes open eyes to see who are the real terrorists.

Here in comfy Canada, our shiny, smiling new government is doing some good things, beginning to undo at least some of the wreckage perpetrated by the outgoing Northern Republicans (aka Conservatives).  At the same time, the newly elected Liberal government openly supports the atmosphere-killing tar sands, the pipelines and trains needed to deliver their toxic brew to ports and ships on both east and west coasts, as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a catastrophic corporate-dictated trade agreement, negotiated in secret, that will make it virtually impossible for any signatory government to take effective action against climate collapse.

But despite all this, people everywhere will continue to find creative ways to express their love for the earth and for justice, and their refusal to comply with those who would trample both.

In Ottawa, November 29, 2015, the people’s march for climate justice culminated with the creation of a giant message to Parliament.  (Look for me about halfway up the right side of the second zero…)

In our thousands, we spelled it out for them: 100% possible.

Act now or get out of the way.

100 percent Possible, Nov 2015


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For the people of Greece, I wish…

Far too long, financial vampires in Europe and North America have had free access to the open veins of the Greek people. Little blood is left, but still the vampires want more. This is how they live, in castles called the IMF, the European Commission, the European Central Bank.  They call their brutal regime ‘austerity,’  but its true name is insatiable, murderous greed.

After years under this regime, and rising popular protests, in January of this year Greek voters elected the Syriza party to form a government. It’s still young, a coalition formed only in 2004.  Chief among its promises was to end the suffering and brutality of imposed ‘austerity.’

Greek rallyAthens rally, June 2015: Yes to freedom, no to austerity. Photo: NY Times.

The vampires hate the new government. They set about immediately to discredit, paralyze and ultimately to smash it.  An example must be made, subjects must be reminded of their place.

In power six months now, the Greek government has tied itself in knots trying to meet the insatiable demands of the vampires, while still keeping its promises to the people who elected it. Finally this past week it could no longer yield any further without cravenly betraying them.  Instead it asked the people of Greece to decide for themselves how to proceed.

Tomorrow, Sunday July 5, Greeks face a stark choice between two extremely painful paths, both imposed from outside. One path is to accept more of the same from the vampires, the other is to refuse them, and face the vicious retaliations that will surely result.  It’s a horrible decision that no one should ever have to make.  It’s a forced decision that people in other parts of the world also face, and very likely many more of us will have to face in the future.

This won’t be the first time Greeks have been forced to fight for their freedom, even their survival, against enormous odds. In April 1967, backed as usual by the CIA, Greek army officers launched a coup against the elected government. The military junta immediately abolished civil rights, dissolved political parties and exiled, imprisoned and tortured politicians and citizens who resisted, opposed, or even questioned them.

For most Greeks it was a nightmare, but the vampires thrived.

On February 21st, 1973, law students went on strike against the military dictatorship, barricading themselves inside the Law School of the University of Athens. They demanded the repeal of a law that imposed forcible military drafting on “subversive youths”, a fate already suffered by 88 of their peers. The police were ordered to attack.

By chance, I happened to be there.

Circling the Mediterranean on a quest of sorts, that afternoon I was heading for the Acropolis.  On a downtown building I noticed young people at the edge of the roof, holding up a banner in Greek. On the streets below, swarms of buses gathered, their flanks and windows painted dull grey. Men in uniform spilled out, clubs and guns on their belts. Streets emptied, shop doors slammed shut. Soon young people started disappearing from the roof. After awhile they emerged from the main entrance, staggering, choking and gagging – from tear gas, I assumed. They were forced through a gauntlet of police, who beat them with clubs. I saw and heard the impact on heads and backs, saw people hurled like sacks of grain into buses, caught glimpses of more beatings inside. On streets I watched ordinary looking men suddenly pull out small clubs from inside their jackets, beat young people, apparently at random, then run away. Here and there a shop door opened and hands pulled in a fleeing refugee. Behind other doors, people shook their heads, Go away!

That first uprising at the Law School is often cited as prelude to a much larger one in November 1973 at the Athens Polytechnic. Though it too was put down with even greater brutality, it sparked thousands of workers and youth to join protests across Greece.

In July 1974, the military dictatorship collapsed. Four months later, national elections were held, the first in seven years, won by the conservative New Democracy party.  Fatefully, one of its first priorities was to seek membership in the European Community, formed only a few years before.

The same forces I witnessed that day in Athens are still at work today. Now they wear suits. The uniforms and thugs stay in the background, to be called up as needed. Now the preferred weapons of mass destruction are international finance and trade agreements, negotiated over our heads and behind our backs. Like other dictators the finance vampires hide behind a veil of fake legality, to kill and destroy with impunity, smug in their ruthless power.

So long as these vampires continue to rule, by deception and force, people everywhere will continue to face the kind of torturous dilemma that Greeks face tomorrow, and worse.

For the people of Greece I wish the clarity of vision to see through the propaganda and threats that assail them, and the courage to refuse the vampires.

 


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Scotland the brave

Good news: Scotland freezes fracking.

Scots protest fracking

Scotland says: Don’t frack.  Photo: the-news-daily.com

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing announced that the moratorium would stand until “a full public consultation on unconventional oil and gas extraction” had been initiated and completed.

A week later, more good news: the Welsh government also voted to block fracking until it is proven safe for the environment and public health.  Note:  It cannot be proved safe, since it is everything but.

Neither of these initiatives is an outright ban, but in New York state, years of citizen campaigning led to a similar moratorium, and finally last month to a ban.

For a close look at the dirty business of fracking, see Bold Scientists.  Scroll down to chapter 10, The unsolved problem.

 


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“Clean-up efforts are underway.”

The bad news:  Alberta pipeline spills 60,000 liters of crude oil into muskeg.

The spin: As usual, the industry and its government partners assure us that “clean-up efforts are underway.”  What else can they say, spill after spill…

Tar sands pipelines

Tar sands pipelines.  Image: newrepublic.com

The worse news:  The industry is poised to send millions of gallons of this muck via pipelines and trains across thousands of kilometres/miles through every kind of terrain and aquifer to the west and east coasts, and south through the US.

The good news:  Every step of the way, courageous people are resisting.

At Burnaby Mountain in British Columbia, more than 100 resisters have been arrested to date for trying to block a scheme by the Texas-based Kinder Morgan corporation to ram a pipeline through the mountain.

Canada’s National Energy Board granted the company rubber-stamp approval to proceed with test drilling, despite the fact that the pipeline will cross – invade, actually – territory which the Indigenous First Nations have never legally ceded to either the federal or provincial government.

In May, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation launched the first Indigenous legal challenge to oil sands pipelines crossing B.C., in a direct challenge to the National Energy Board’s deeply flawed ‘review’ process.

Last week, a provincial court judge threw out the charges against the Burnaby Mountain resisters, which included both First Nations and non-First Nations citizens.

Unfortunately, the judge’s ruling was based on Kinder Morgan having provided inaccurate GPS boundaries for its drilling sites, which leaves the company free to get a new revised injunction against the resisters.

Stakes for resisters also rose sharply when Kinder Morgan launched a $5.6 million lawsuit against several resisters and two university professors who have spoken out against the company’s pipeline test work on Burnaby Mountain.

Still, as the enormity of the threat become more and more apparent, resistance continues to grow across the continent. It takes many forms. This past week, Concordia University in Montreal became the first Canadian university to start divesting from fossil fuels.

For a scientist’s insight on the tar sands and climate change, see chapter 9, in Bold ScientistsRead an excerpt here.  Scroll down to ‘Pesky data.’