Ukranians Infuriated at the President Fill the Streets

As hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Kiev once again on Monday, calling for “revolution” as they blockaded government buildings, demonstrators also took to the streets in Armenia, where the government is considering signing the same Moscow-led bill that kicked off Ukraine’s mass unrest.

… as many as 350,000 people, the biggest public rally in the ex-Soviet state since the “Orange Revolution” overturned a stolen election nine years ago.

“Our plan is clear: It’s not a demonstration, it’s not a reaction. It’s a revolution,” said former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko, speaking from the top of a bus.

Trying to Break Through Police Lines

Trying to Break Through Police Lines

Al Jazeera and more by David Herszenhorn at the NY Times…

Meanwhile, mobs are forming to go shopping in the USA….

Chemicals in the News

Two articles in the SF Chronicle this morning about chemicals, their over-use and abuse.

The annual Bay monitoring report was released this week

Pesticides, flame retardants and other chemicals used in homes and businesses have been found in San Francisco Bay at levels that could pose hazards to aquatic life if they go unchecked, according to a new report.

For now, none of the chemicals is present in concentrations alarming enough to be of “high concern,” meaning they are unlikely to cause significant harm to water quality and the bay’s inhabitants, according to the annual report from the Regional Monitoring Program, an environmental group that tracks contaminants in the bay.

“However, there are a number of chemicals that are showing up not too far from levels of concern, and that’s the bad news,” said Tom Mumley, assistant executive officer of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Pretty amazing what some of the chemicals are — and how they enter the watershed:

One chemical the monitors are concerned about is fipronil, an insecticide that’s increasingly being used to control pests around buildings and fleas on pets. Found in higher-than-usual concentrations in bay sediment, it could affect the delicate bay wildlife if allowed to build up, according to the report.

Pyrethroids, another family of insecticides used to combat fleas and bedbugs, aren’t a big danger in the bay now, but they’re widespread in the urban creeks that feed into the bay.

“It’s theoretically just a matter of time,” Mumley said. “The more they continue to be used, the more we’d expect them to be at high levels in the bay.”

Also under scrutiny are alkylphenols, which are breakdown products of chemicals in household detergents and other cleaning products. Chemicals in this family – which are known endocrine disruptors that can interrupt the hormone system in mammals – were found in varying levels in mussels and the eggs of cormorants, and experts say they may contribute to the decline of fish populations in the bay. Perfluoro-octane sulfonate – which is used as a stain repellent on textiles, furniture and carpets – was detected in bay birds, seals, fish and mollusks. In mammals, exposure to this chemical has been associated with compromised immune systems, reproductive defects, neurotoxicity and cancer.

SF Gate   for a copy of the report, go here.

And in some relatively good news, Target joins other retail giants in promising to identify ingredients in most of its products

As consumers nationwide have become more aware of the toxic chemicals in their over-the-counter products, they have pushed manufacturers and retailers to make changes.

The message seems to be paying off.

The latest example is retail giant Target, which this month announced that it will identify and eventually inform shoppers which of its more than 7,500 household and personal care products are least harmful to health and the environment.

The announcement from the company, which opened its second San Francisco branch this month, follows similar programs by other retail chains, such as Walmart, CVS and Kroger, and manufacturers like Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson.

SF Gate

Many of the corporations are using GoodGuide to help them identify and inform.  Take a look and see why Patagonia is better than Ralph Lauren….

Upworthy Rising Up

For the past several weeks, perhaps longer, my Facebook timeline has been spotted by posts from something called Upworthy.  Usually I’m very annoyed when advertisers/spammers crowd my ‘private’ space but Upworthy often catches my attention — more, it must be said, than some of the ‘here’s me and my cat’ posts left by friends.  Not always, but often, I click the offering and not always, but often, I remain to read or listen to what is said.  Good news, yes.  But relevant good news to my mind.  People doing things outside the norm on behalf of others, pushing back against the cultural tide of selfism, adrenaline-porn and cynicism.

It turns out this is not just happenstance.  Upworthy.com is a start up, like many others in the techno age, and one of the founders has a familiar name to all those who were attracted to MoveOn.org, among other grass-roots efforts, raising a banner and a place to gather against the tide of ignorance and vitriol of the last decade: Eli Pariser he is.

…Upworthy.com, whose goal is to make more serious content as fun to share as a “video of some idiot surfing off his roof.” Surfing idiots are tough to beat, of course, but Upworthy has shown that by selecting emotional material and then promoting it with catchy, pretested headlines, it can fulfill its mission: to direct Internet audiences to what it deems socially worthwhile subjects. Already the site has drawn millions of people to share videos about sober topics like income inequality and human trafficking. A video featuring Patrick Stewart discussing domestic violence was uploaded more than six million times after it was posted in May.

Eli Pariser and Peter Koechley, Upworthy’s 32-year old founders, say the effects have gone beyond simply tugging at the conscience of viewers to inciting them to action. The two point, for example, to a 20-minute biography of a young musician dying of a rare bone cancer that persuaded Upworthy viewers to donate about $100,000. A video by the founder of GoldieBlox, a company aspiring to make toys that will encourage young girls to be interested in engineering, was also a hit; Upworthy viewers bought enough toys to ensure a first production run.

NY Times

And be sure to check out Upworthy.com for more like this.

Moral Mondays in North Carolina

A friend of mine from the way-back years recently paid a visit from her home state of North Carolina. She was the first to tell me of a rising coalition called Moral Monday. Here’s the Why and then the What

So far this year, legislation passed or pending by [North Carolina] Republicans would eliminate the earned-income tax credit for 900,000; decline Medicaid coverage for 500,000; end federal unemployment benefits for 170,000 in a state with the country’s fifth-highest jobless rate; cut pre-K for 30,000 kids while shifting $90 million from public education to voucher schools; slash taxes for the top 5 percent while raising taxes on the bottom 95 percent; allow for guns to be purchased without a background check and carried in parks, playgrounds, restaurants and bars; ax public financing of judicial races; and prohibit death row inmates from challenging racially discriminatory verdicts.

*

On an overcast afternoon in early July, 300 activists pack into the white-columned Christian Faith Baptist Church to prepare for the ninth wave of Moral Monday protests at the state legislature. “Supporters on the right, civil disobedience on the left,” they’re told as they enter. The racially and socioeconomically diverse crowd has the feel of an Obama campaign revival. Eighty people take the left side of the pews, wearing green armbands to signal their intention to get arrested, nearly all of them for the first time. “The goal of Moral Monday,” says the Rev. William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, “is to dramatize the shameful condition of our state.”

Read more at The Nation:

One of the recent participants in a Moral Monday was Baldemar Velasquez, a long time farmworker organizer, in the mold of Cesar Chavez,  in Florida, Ohio and the eastern United States. {Here with Bill Moyers.]

The president of Toledo-based Farm Labor Organizing Committee was arrested for civil disobedience Monday at a protest in Raleigh, N.C.Mr. Velasquez, 66, was among more than 80 protesters arrested at a rally held at the North Carolina General Assembly building in Raleigh to oppose the state’s budget cuts to unemployment benefits, health-care funding, education, and other social benefits.

More than 3,000 protesters attended the rally, organized by the North Carolina NAACP.

Malala: “This is what my soul is telling me: Be peaceful and love everyone.”

“We realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns. The extremists are afraid of books and pens.”

Nuns of the Bus Tell it in Texas

Always like a good story about a demonstration trying to bring dignity and power to the down and out…

 

The Nuns on the Bus, a touring group of activist Catholic nuns, arrived at the Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas on Wednesday, to demonstrate alongside more than 400 others who support the expansion of Medicaid in that state to help the poor. According to the Associated Press, the purpose of the rally was to urge lawmakers to pass a state law that would add more than 1 million working poor people to the Medicaid rolls.

Citizen Action in Cambodia

In the annals of brave and determined people, Tep Vanny, 31 year old Cambodian mother of two, will have a special place.  No matter that the terror of the Khmer Rouge genocides were barely over the year of her birth, she is standing up to the authorities for what most reasonable people would consider basic rights: a piece of land to stand on.

[In Cambodia] an economy left in ruins by the years of war and violent revolution in the 1970s and 80s grew at a rate of almost 10% a year from 1998 to 2008. Cheap land, cheap labour and rich natural resources have attracted big inflows of foreign investment, especially from Asian neighbours like China, Vietnam and Thailand. That has ignited a property boom.

For the first time in its history Phnom Penh’s skyline is being pierced by modern high-rise towers, offering new office space and luxury apartments. Land prices are soaring, and developers are constantly seeking out new possibilities for construction.

One area they targeted was the city’s largest lake, Boeng Kak. A company owned by a senator from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, Shukaku, was given a 99-year lease to drain and build on the lake in 2007.

cambodia evictions… The bulldozers moved in to start demolishing the flimsy houses around Boeng Kak lake in 2008. There have been clashes with local residents ever since. Some have been beaten by riot police as they tried to block the developers, other have been arrested and charged. Many of them are women.

One of them, 31 year-old Tep Vanny, has become the leader of the women who are still protesting against their treatment by the company. A passionate and outspoken mother of two, she and her husband were previously evicted from land they lived on in Kampong Speu province near Phnom Penh, and moved to Boeng Kak in 2004.

Last year she was charged with rebellion and illegally occupying land, and sentenced to two and a half years in prison. She was released on appeal after two months.

Tep Vanny (left) protesting evictions

Tep Vanny (left) protesting evictions

“I’ve been detained by the police five times,” she told me in the house next to the drained lake that the women use as a campaign headquarters.

“The last time I was sentenced to jail. This is normal in my country. Before I started this work I thought hard about what I would face, but I knew I could not back down. I had to fight the corrupt officials and the greedy companies which are harming the lives of our people.” [BBC: Head]

Now this should be on the tourist routes in South East Asia….

Good Man Gets Some Praise

Sometimes it’s just good to read about a man with values like these.  After 18 years someone heard his story, passed it on, and he got public recognition — for pulling people, including a policeman, out of a collapsed building in the Northridge earthquake,

“I’m not a hero. My friends needed help and I helped them,” he said. “It’s not, ‘How does it feel to be a hero?’ The question is, ‘How would it have felt if I had turned my back on those people that night?’ I wouldn’t want to have to live with that.”

CADEM: Right on Guns, Write to Say So

Dear Friend ,

President Obama gave an inspirational — and deeply moving — speech Tuesday on specific policies to make us safer and reduce the gun violence.

California Democrats have already started pushing for a ban on the sale of assault weapons and extended ammunition clips — which California’s Senator Dianne Feinstein will introduce in Congress next week.

The president’s plan is full and comprehensive. It includes:

  • requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales;
  • reinstating the assault weapons ban;
  • restoring a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines;
  • eliminating armor-piercing bullets;
  • providing mental health services in schools;
  • allocating funds to hire more police officers;
  • and instituting a federal gun trafficking statute, among other policies.

Today we’re asking all California Democrats to show their support for President Obama’s proposal by signing our petition in favor of banning assault weapons — and it looks like you haven’t added your signature yet.

Click here to sign California Democrats’ petition supporting President Obama and Senator Feinstein’s push to ban assault weapons.

In the wake of the horrendous school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut there is both righteous anger and renewed interest in at last passing sensible gun legislation.

Nearly 30,000 of your fellow California Democrats have already signed this important petition, and it’s clear with the president’s remarks Tuesday that the momentum is building throughout the country.

Despite this growing momentum, the gun lobbyists — who wield tremendous influence in Washington — will try to stop this important legislation. In fact, the NRA already released an attack ad using President Obama’s own children. The White House has rightly called the ad “repugnant and cowardly.”

We can’t let the gun lobbyists win this one. We need to reduce the gun violence.

Click here to sign California Democrats’ petition supporting President Obama and Senator Feinstein’s push to ban assault weapons.

What happened last month in Newtown is beyond unacceptable. We need to show the country that Californians are taking the lead in standing behind President Obama to reduce gun violence.

Thank you for being a California Democrat.

Peace and friendship,

John Burton
Chair
California Democratic Party

Simple, Unexpected Acts And Mighty Winds of Change

I’ve seen obituaries in several places for a woman I had never heard of but who, by her simple act of making herself visible, may have set in motion the winds of change that have brought homosexuals out of the backwaters of contempt and hatred into more-or-less normalized participation in the main stream of American life.

Her name was Jeanne Manford.  She had a son.  She loved him and she said so, publicly,  when most Americans loathed him and ‘his kind.’

Mrs. Manford was a mother of three and a New York City elementary school teacher when her defiance in the face of violence thrust her onto the national stage and led her to found an organization known as PFLAG, which now has more than 200,000 members and more than 350 affiliates across the nation.

In April 1972, one of her sons, the late Morty Manford, was beaten at a gay rights demonstration in New York by a former amateur boxing champion, and police failed to respond, Swan said.

Mrs. Manford penned a letter to the New York Post later that month that read: “I have a homosexual son, and I love him.”

Not long after, she marched with her son in New York’s Christopher Street Liberation Day March, a precursor to present day Pride parades, carrying a sign saying: “Parents of gays: Unite in support for our children.”

“She never thought twice about it. She fought for him,” Swan recalled. “This was a 5-foot-2, thin, blond woman who had a spine of steel. She just did what she knew to be right.”

Participants flocked to Mrs. Manford during the parade, hugging her and begging her to talk to their parents, according to the organization.

SF Gate: 

Love on its feet. Many miles traveled.