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How many holidays do we have? MLK Day in January, Valentines Day in February, Easter in March or April, Earth Day in April, Memorial Day in May, and so forth. Of those few examples, two were declared in my adulthood. New holidays take time to catch on and embed themselves in the culture. They can stray from their roots. Christmas is for consumerism. Veterans Day is to promote war. Thanksgiving is for football.
The first Earth Day, in 1970, was the launch of a new holiday with deep challenger social meaning for many of us. I was 19. I was excited that this new holiday reflected my values, the ones I was raised to hold, the ones that had worked forward from many indigenous leaders to John Muir to Aldo Leopold to Rachel Carson. My Dad taught me the number one value and tactic in life: always leave the campsite a bit nicer than when you found it. We camped across the country and that was our ritual; we broke camp and made sure the site was free of garbage but also had a bit more firewood left for the next ones than what we found.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wastewater permits issued recently on Indianlands are illegal and should be rescinded, according to an appeal filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The permits allow mass discharge of waters laced with toxic oil and gas drilling chemicals into a stream, for consumption by wildlife and livestock. The PEER petition to EPA's Environmental Appeals Board highlights EPA's approval of surface disposal of drilling wastewater without even identifying the chemicals in the hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") fluids, let alone setting effluent limits for the harmful contaminants contained within, contrary to its own regulations.
In mid-March, EPA finalized new water discharge permits for nearly a dozen oil fields on or abutting the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming (EPA has Clean Water Act jurisdiction on tribal lands).
Majorities hope that more transparency and data sharing by government will help journalists cover government and make officials more accountable, but very few think that government agencies are doing a great job of providing useful data, according to a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The representative survey of more than 3,000 U.S. adults finds there are public divisions about the possible impact of open-data initiatives by government that often are shaped by people’s levels of trust in government. For instance, only 23% of the public trust the federal government to do the right thing most of the time. In addition, people’s partisan views about the trustworthiness are a factor in their beliefs about government transparency and data initiatives: Democrats are more hopeful than Republicans.
As negotiations continue between the governments of the United States and Cuba over the normalization of relations, the U.S. State Department has claimed Cuba is willing to discuss the extradition of political refugee Assata Shakur. While it may seem that Cuba would gladly make such a seemingly minor concession in return for the promise of normalized relations, this would greatly underestimate the Cuban government's commitment to upholding its principles. Shakur need not worry that Cuba will cave for expediency's sake and send her back to the country she escaped from after being harassed and persecuted for years.
According to The Guardian, a State Department spokesman said Cuba had agreed to discuss fugitives, including Shakur, whose original name was Joanne Chesimard. She was granted political asylum by Cuba in 1984 after escaping from prison in New Jersey five years earlier.
Israel's Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) has demanded that notoriously racist club Beitar Jerusalem, the bad boy of Israeli soccer, retract recent statements that it would maintain its policy of not hiring Palestinian players because of opposition by the team's militant, racist fan base.
The demand comes as Israel is fighting an attempt by the Palestine Football Association (PFA) to get the Jewish state suspended from FIFA at next month's congress of the world soccer body. The PFA charges that Israel hinders the development of Palestinian soccer by obstructing travel of Palestinian players between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as well as abroad.
In a scathing decision, a U.S. Department of Labor judge has ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency improperly sought to conceal exonerating evidence and illegally retaliated against a whistleblower. In the ruling posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a U.S. Department of Labor administrative law judge catalogued a trove ofmisconduct by EPA lawyers covering years of litigation.
The April 15, 2015 ruling by Administrative Law Judge Linda Chapman involved EPA senior chemist Cate Jenkins, who had reported fraudulent agency limits on corrosive dust and improper testing and cover-up of the toxic properties of the dust emanating from the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster which contributed to deaths and illnesses of First Responders. Judge Chapman found that EPA had "failed to produce literally thousands of documents" in a campaign of concealment.
A senior White House official has said that the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Michele Leonhart, isexpected to resign soon. The news comes as no surprise to drug policy reformers who say her opposition to reform made her out of step with the Obama Administration.
"Leonhart's DEA reflects an outdated, disastrous approach that President Obama claims he wants to leave behind," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "If she leaves he has an opportunity to appoint someone who will overhaul the DEA and support drug policy reform."
The Washington Post has established itself over many decades as a major mouthpiece of elite opinion. Its editorial pages argue strongly for the interests of the wealthy, with scarcely concealed contempt for people who have to work for a living. (They do support alms for the poor, hence they are okay with programs like food stamps and TANF.)
This attitude has been shown many times over the years, but perhaps never more clearly than in its editorial on the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, where it fumed about auto workers who earned $56,650 a year. By contrast, it was an ardent supporter of the Wall Street bailout, which was largely about helping people who make this much money in a day.
Nixiwaka Yawanawá will be the first Amazon Indian to run the London Marathon on Sunday, April 26, 2015.
Nixiwaka is raising vital funds for Survival International – the global movement for tribal peoples' rights – together with Survival's co-founder and President Robin Hanbury-Tenison, who is running the marathon as one of eight challenges to mark his 80th year.
Today marks the fist day scheduled for Common Core testing, such as it is, at Seattle's Garfield High School. As I reported last week, Garfield educators were debating about how best to oppose the new deeply flawed Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Common Core tests, when the parents spoke and opted out hundreds of students from the test. With so many students having opted out of the Common Core tests, the teachers are no longer being asked to administer the exam—a huge victory in this struggle against the testocracy! (Now the few remaining students who don't have an opt out letter will be pulled out of class individually).
Garfield High School teacher Heather Robison delivers her declaration at a recent press conference.