Friday, February 4, 2011

Hedges: a Call to Action for All Liberals everywhere!

By Chris Hedges, truthdig.com, January 24, 2011
The liberal class refuses to directly confront the dead hand of corporate power that is rapidly transforming America into a brutal feudal state. To name this power, to admit that it has a death grip on our political process, our systems of information, our artistic and religious expression, our education, and has successfully emasculated popular movements, including labor, is to admit that the only weapons we have left are acts of civil disobedience. And civil disobedience is difficult, uncomfortable and lonely. It requires us to step outside the formal systems of power and trust in acts that are marginal, often unrecognized and have no hope of immediate success....
The only gatherings worth attending from now on are acts that organize civil disobedience, which is why I will be at Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C., at noon March 19 to protest the eighth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Veterans groups on March 19 will also carry out street protests in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago. You can link to the protests at AnswerCoalition.org. Save your bus fare and your energy for events like this one.

Either we begin to militantly stand against the coal, oil and natural gas industry or we do not. Either we defy pre-emptive war and occupation or we do not. Either we demand that the criminal class on Wall Street be held accountable for the theft of billions of dollars from small shareholders whose savings for retirement or college were wiped out or we do not. Either we defend basic civil liberties, including habeas corpus and the prosecution of torturers or we do not. Either we turn on liberal institutions, including the Democratic Party, which collaborate with these corporations or we do not. Either we accept that the age of political compromise is dead, that the corporate systems of power are instruments of death that can be fought only by physical acts of resistance or we do not. If the liberal class remains gullible and weak, if it continues to speak to itself and others in meaningless platitudes, it will remain as responsible for our enslavement as those it pompously denounces.
Hedges renounces the tepid conferences, letters, petitions and networks that have characterized the liberal movement, for the simple reason that they do not accomplish anything. High sounding platitudes, moral lectures, even by such notables as Noam Chomsky, even television programs like the now-deceased "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" mourned by many including your scribe, do not cut it.
We all know that the labour movement is about as defunct as rigor mortis renders any organization that is pummelled to death by big money and corporations seeking to exact the most sweat for the least compensation.
We Say NO to Selling City Parks
We also know that city governments all over North America are facing inordinate fiscal crises, and the "right" would see them sell off their prime real estate, (you know that portion of the city that is used by walkers in parks along lakefronts), so that developers can build giant apartment buildings on that treasured land, felling the hundreds of trees, and raping the beauty, the solitude, and the peace that come from those treasured walks along paved sidewalks, in relative safety and security. (Such a proposal has recently hit the local weekly in Kingston, ON, for the sale of Lake Ontario Park, one of the most beautiful pieces of common real estate in Ontario, and certainly in this city. (Protest against such a proposal, we will. And soon! And not merely with our words but also with our bodies!)
We say NO to the Canadian government's corporate-friendly approach to Tar Sands Development
From The Tipping Point, a CBC Documentary, airing again on February 12, at 7:00 p.m.
on the Athabascan Tar Sands
For years, residents of the northern Alberta community of Fort Chipewyan, down the Athabasca River from the oil sands, have been plagued by rare forms of cancer. They were concerned that toxins from oil sands production might be to blame. Industry and government, meanwhile, claimed production in the oil sands contributed zero pollution to the Athabasca River.

Dr. David Schindler holding a fish from the river.But in 2010, new and independent research measured pollution in waters flowing through the oil sands and discovered higher-than-expected levels of toxins, including arsenic, lead and mercury, coming from industrial plants. Leading the research was renowned freshwater scientist Dr. David Schindler (read more about David Schindler). At the same time, the leaders of tiny Fort Chipewyan took their battle to the boardrooms of global oil companies, demanding change.
Leading the campaign was Dene Elder Francois Paulette, whose battles with Ottawa a generation ago launched the era of modern land claims. From New York, to Copenhagen, to Oslo, to the oil sands themselves, our camera followed Paulette on his relentless search for allies. When he finally enlisted the support of Avatar director James Cameron, Paulette created a storm of controversy for the Alberta’s oil sands industry.
Hauling truck and tailing pond, Syncrude.By the end of 2010, Schindler’s alarming discovery of toxic pollution and the media attention Cameron’s visit had raised was putting federal and provincial environmental policy under serious pressure. Separate reports by Canada’s Auditor General, the Royal Society of Canada, and a panel of experts appointed by then Environment Minister Jim Prentice revealed a decade of incompetent pollution monitoring, paid for by industry, in Alberta’s oil sands.
The documentary’s climax shows how Professor Schindler's research findings, and the determination of Fort Chipewyan residents, led to change. In December 2010, the special scientific review by the high-level federal panel declared environmental monitoring standards in the oil sands seriously flawed. In a dramatic reversal of their previous position, both the Federal and Alberta governments announced steps to improve their pollution monitoring. The age of innocence for the oil sands is over.
And yet, the Canadian government, and apparently the opposition parties, are all comfortable with a hands-off approach, given the huge upswing the project brings to the national GDP. And the Canadian people?
It seems that Hedges call to action is certainly warranted to protest the devastation of this project. We cannot tolerate monitoring systems paid for the same industry that is polluting the rivers and the lives of individuals. The Canadian "action plan" for individuals, consists of writing to your Member of Parliament. that is only a little toe in the water of activism.
Try a few of these actions:
  1. Join a political party and send money specifically directed to policies that stop this rape.
  2. Talk about the issue with your family and friends, so that consciousness is raised high enough that the parliamentarians cannot ignore it.
  3. Obviously, watch the second airing of the documentary, and send a contribution to the David Suzuki Foundation
  4. Write a letter to your local newspaper, your local radio and television station, outlining your "take" on the situation
  5. Ask your investment advisor to withdraw those funds from your portfolio that may be used to purchase stock in the oil companies and in the oil sands specifically.
  6. Invite Dr. Suzuki to your town or city to deliver a public lecture, and listen to the recommendations he might make about actions that would potentially influence the Canadian government
How we eat and how that food gets to us
From the CBC Documentary website,
In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that has been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, herbicide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won't go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli--the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.Here is another issue about which the CBC is attempting to raise our awareness. We need to think about what we are eating, and how that food is getting from the producer to the kithen table. And we also need to think about local producers, who are bringing "buy local" back to our local economies, after the giant corporations have so dominated the food industry and the implications.

Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield's Gary Hirshberg and Polyface Farms' Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising--and often shocking truths--about what we eat, how it's produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.

It is only by our individual, family and community decisions and actions that those large corporations will lose their stranglehold on both our pallets and our wallets. In every community, local "farmers" with a few acres are turning that land over to the production of vegetables, and fruits whose freshness and lack of chemicals can only be a relief to our taste buds and to our health and wellness, and longevity.
And taking action can be the most tasty and refreshing decision of our "political action" campaign.
If christ Hedges is right, that the Liberal Class is already dead, then it is time to bring it back to life. In a Lazarus-like re-birth, it is past time for each of us to take seriously the call to action, real action, not just more conferences, but real action, to bring about the kind of changes that we all need, want and deserve.
Our failure to act will leave our grandchildren with a far less hospitable globe, less food and less choice, if any.

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