"For more than 30 years, Concepcion “Connie” Picciotto had maintained a peace camp outside the White House."
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As environmentalists began ratcheting up pressure against Canada’s tar sands three years ago, one of the world’s biggest strategic consulting firms was tapped to help the North American oil industry figure out how to handle the mounting activism. The resulting document, published online by WikiLeaks, offers another window into how oil and gas companies have been scrambling to deal with unrelenting opposition to their growth plans.
The document identifies nearly two-dozen environmental organizations leading the anti-oil sands movement and puts them into four categories: radicals, idealists, realists and opportunists—with how-to’s for managing each. It also reveals that the worst-case scenario presented to industry about the movement’s growing influence seems to have come to life.
The December 2010 presentation by Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, a global intelligence firm based in Texas, mostly advised oil sands companies to ignore or limit reaction to the then-burgeoning tar sands opposition movement because “activists lack influence in politics.” But there was a buried warning for industry under one scenario: Letting the movement grow unopposed may bring about “the most significant environmental campaign of the decade.”
"This worst-case scenario is exactly what has happened," partly because opposition to tar sands development has expanded beyond nonprofit groups to include individual activists concerned about climate change, said Mark Floegel, a senior investigator for Greenpeace. “The more people in America see Superstorm Sandys or tornadoes in Chicago, the more they are waking up and joining the fight.”
[View the documents at Inside Climate News]
Since the presentation was prepared, civil disobedience and protests against the tar sands have sprung up from coast to coast. The movement has helped delay President Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline—designed to funnel Canada’s landlocked oil sands crude to refineries on the Gulf Coast—and has held up another contentious pipeline in Canada, the Northern Gateway to the Pacific Coast.
The Power Point document, titled “Oil Sands Market Campaigns,” was recently made public by WikiLeaks, part of a larger release of hacked files from Stratfor, whose clients include the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry lobby. It appears to have been created for Calgary-based petroleum giant Suncor Energy, Canada’s largest oil sands producer.
The company told InsideClimate News that it did not hire Stratfor and never saw such a presentation. Suncor is mentioned 11 times in the document’s 35 pages and all of Stratfor’s advice seems to be directed at the energy company. For example, one slide says, “Campaign ends quickly with a resolution along the lines Suncor had wanted.” In several emails released by WikiLeaks, Stratfor employees discuss a $14,890 payment Suncor owes the company for two completed projects, though no details were provided.
The presentation is the latest in a series of revelations that suggest energy companies—which for most of their history seemed unfazed by activists—have been looking for ways to dilute environmentalists’ growing influence.
Earlier this year, TransCanada, the Canadian energy company behind the Keystone XL, briefed Nebraska law enforcement authorities on how to prosecute demonstrators protesting the 1,200-mile project. In 2011, Range Resources, an oil and gas company, allegedly hired combat veterans with experience in psychological warfare to squash opposition of natural gas drilling.
"The Stratfor presentation isn’t a complete surprise," said Scott Parkin, a senior campaigner for the Rainforest Action Network and volunteer organizer for Rising Tide North America, both grassroots environmental groups. “As opposition has grown, coal, oil and gas companies are all starting to put more money into responding—from surveillance to protection to public relations.”
Who Was Targeted?
For each of Stratfor’s categories of environmental activist—radicals, idealists, realists and opportunists—the presentation explains how their campaigns are structured and how the fossil fuel industry could deal with them.
Three grassroots organizations—Rising Tide North America, Oil Change International and the Indigenous Environmental Network—were labeled radicals. Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action Network were classified as a cross between radicals and idealists. Sierra Club, the nation’s largest environmental group, Amnesty International and Communities for a Better Environment, among others, were labeled idealists. Several mainstream environmental groups, including the National Wildlife Federation, World Wildlife Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council and Ceres, a nonprofit that organizes businesses, investors and public interest groups, were called realists.
It then lays out tactics the groups would use to push for change. They include holding demonstrations outside annual meetings and marketing events, generating fear of oil spills and other environmental disasters, targeting CEOs and their families, collaborating with other green groups, and splitting the fossil fuel industry on the issue by praising companies working with activists and publicly shaming those that aren’t.
The presentation says that while environmental groups are publicly fighting to stop the expansion of the oil sands, their “real demand” is for fossil fuel companies to adopt a “global code of conduct”—a set of best practices not required by law, but that take into consideration things like greenhouse gas reduction policies and human rights.
The Power Point also describes all the ways fossil fuel companies like Suncor could choose to react to green groups’ campaigns, such as limiting contact with the organizations, intentionally delaying negotiations, developing its own environmental initiatives to overshadow activists’ demands, or simply not responding. It provides the pros and cons of each public relations decision, as well as the best- and worst-case outcomes for each.
For example, Stratfor said that choosing not to respond could be useful because in 2010, “activists are not stopping oil sands’ growth and they have no power in Alberta or Ottawa. Chance of success with U.S. government is slim.” The best outcome from a no-response strategy, according to the presentation, is that green “groups move to fracturing [natural gas fracking] or some other venue to press for the first major code of conduct.”
Stratfor would not answer questions about the presentation because it has a policy not to comment on any of the WikiLeaks documents.
Several environmental groups named in the Stratfor presentation said they weren’t surprised by the consulting firm’s assessment of their work, but were disappointed, especially by its assumption that all they wanted was a code of conduct.
"The environmental community has been very united in saying that we need to stop tar sands expansion and clean up the mess already made there," said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s international program. “That’s the only real path forward if we’re going to protect not only the health of communities on the ground in the boreal forests near the tar sands region, but also around the world from the impacts of climate change. We’re not looking for a code of conduct.”
For many, the leaked presentation provided proof that their work was having an impact, boosting their confidence to keep protesting.
"Knowing that groups like Stratfor are targeting us, surveying us, and also analyzing us shows how powerful these movements have become," said Parkin of the Rainforest Action Network and Rising Tide North America. "Obviously this wasn’t meant for public consumption, but this doesn’t intimidate us. If anything, it emboldens us. It encourages us to push harder."
<3 <3 By @BiellaColeman <3 <3
A decade-plus of anthropological fieldwork among hackers and like-minded geeks has led me to the firm conviction that these people are building one of the most vibrant civil liberties movements we’ve ever seen. It is a culture committed to freeing information, insisting on privacy, and fighting censorship, which in turn propels wide-ranging political activity. In the last year alone, hackers have been behind some of the most powerful political currents out there. Before I elaborate, a brief word on the term “hacker” is probably in order. Even among hackers, it provokes debate. For instance, on the technical front, a hacker might program, administer a network, or tinker with hardware. Ethically and politically, the variability is just as prominent. Some hackers are part of a transgressive, law-breaking tradition, their activities opaque and below the radar. Other hackers write open-source software and pride themselves on access and transparency. While many steer clear of political activity, an increasingly important subset rise up to defend their productive autonomy, or engage in broader social justice and human rights campaigns. Despite their differences, there are certain websites and conferences that bring the various hacker clans together. Like any political movement, it is internally diverse but, under the right conditions, individuals with distinct abilities will work in unison toward a cause. Take, for instance, the reaction to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a far-reaching copyright bill meant to curtail piracy online. SOPA was unraveled before being codified into law due to a massive and elaborate outpouring of dissent driven by the hacker movement. The linchpin was a “Blackout Day”—a Web-based protest of unprecedented scale. To voice their opposition to the bill, on January 17, 2012, nonprofits, some big Web companies, public interest groups, and thousands of individuals momentarily removed their websites from the Internet and thousands of other citizens called or e-mailed their representatives. Journalists eventually wrote a torrent of articles. Less than a week later, in response to these stunning events, SOPA and PIPA, its counterpart in the Senate, were tabled (see “SOPA Battle Won, but War Continues”). The victory hinged on its broad base of support cultivated by hackers and geeks. The participation of corporate giants like Google, respected Internet personalities like Jimmy Wales, and the civil liberties organization EFF was crucial to its success. But the geek and hacker contingent was palpably present, and included, of course, Anonymous. Since 2008, activists have rallied under this banner to initiate targeted demonstrations, publicize various wrongdoings, leak sensitive data, engage in digital direct action, and provide technology assistance for revolutionary movements. As part of the SOPA protests, Anonymous churned out videos and propaganda posters and provided constant updates on several prominent Twitter accounts, such as Your Anonymous News, which are brimming with followers. When the blackout ended, corporate players naturally receded from the limelight and went back to work. Anonymous and others, however, continue to fight for Internet freedoms. In fact, just the next day, on January 18, 2012, federal authorities orchestrated the takedown of the popular file-sharing site MegaUpload. The company’s gregarious and controversial founder Kim Dotcom was also arrested in a dramatic early morning raid in New Zealand. The removal of this popular website was received ominously by Anonymous activists: it seemed to confirm that if bills like SOPA become law, censorship would become a far more common fixture on the Internet. Even though no court had yet found Kim Dotcom guilty of piracy, his property was still confiscated and his website knocked off the Internet. As soon as the news broke, Anonymous coordinated its largest distributed denial of service campaign to date. It took down a slew of websites, including the homepage of Universal Music, the FBI, the U.S. Copyright Office, the Recording Industry Association of America, and the Motion Picture Association of America. Just a few weeks later, in Europe, as massive online and offline demonstrations, notably in Denmark and Poland, were unfolding to protest ACTA, another international copyright agreement, Anonymous again appeared (see “Europeans Protest Anti-Piracy Treaty”). After the Polish government agreed to ratify ACTA, Anonymous took down a slew of government websites and publicized street protests sweeping Krakow. Soon after, the left-leaning Polish Party, Palikot’s Movement Party, adopted the signature Anonymous symbol, the Guy Fawkes masks, wearing them during a parliamentary session to protest ACTA. Amidst this and many other outcries, the European Union scrapped this proposed law in July 2012. So powerful was Anonymous in these events that a few weeks after they passed, I received a call from a venture capitalist involved with organizing the SOPA protests. He wanted to learn more about how Anonymous operated and whether its participants could be harnessed a little more directly. The beauty and frustration of Anonymous lies in an unruly and unpredictable spontaneity—as they like to boast, “We are not your personal army.” But his intuition—that they were an important part of the mix—was correct. One key ingredient to the success of Anonymous lies in its participatory nature, especially when compared to spheres of hacker action where technical skill is a prerequisite for participation (and often respect). Skilled hackers are indeed vital to Anonymous’s networks—they set up communication infrastructure and grab most of the headlines—for instance, when they hack into servers to search for information on government or corporate corruption. Hacking, however, still remains one tool of many (and some Anonymous subgroups oppose hacking and defacing). There is other work to be done: stirring press releases to write, propaganda posters to design, and videos to edit. Geeks and hackers may have different skills sets, but they are often traveling companions online, ingesting similar news, following similar geeky cultural currents, and defending Internet freedom, although using distinct methods and styles of organizing. The depth, extent, and especially diversity of this geek political movement was made evident to me just recently, not at an official political event but at a memorial service that doubled as an informal political rally. Over a thousand people gathered in New York City’s regal Cooper Union Hall to honor Aaron Swartz, a hacker and self-proclaimed activist who had recently taken his own life, some say due to government overreach in his federal case concerning the legality of downloading millions of academic articles from MIT’s library website (see “Why Aaron Swartz’s Ideas Matter”). They spoke about Aaron’s life, quirky personality, and especially his political accomplishments and aspirations. Like his peers, he abhorred censorship, and thus naturally joined the fight against SOPA; the service featured snippets of his famous keynote address at the Freedom to Connect conference from May 2012, when Swartz said, “It was really stopped by the people themselves.” He had been instrumental in fundamental ways, for he had founded an organization, Demand Progress, a nonprofit that had effectively harnessed this citizen discontent over SOPA through petitions and other campaigns. Unlike Anonymous, which has no single mission, physical address, or official spokesperson, Demand Progress is an institution with a board and executive director located in the heart of political power, Washington, D.C. Although it channels, quite effectively, grassroots activities in the service of protecting civil liberties, a contained group can coördinate action with deliberation and precision. Clearly geeks and hackers are behind distinct modalities of political organizing, willing to deploy a diverse array of tactics. Demand Progress, along with the prominence of the Pirate Party in Western Europe, demonstrates the willingness of geeks and hackers to work within existing institutional channels. And all signs point to this type of traditional political activity becoming more common. But it will likely exist alongside the loosely organized acts of disobedience, defiance, and protests that have also become more frequent and visible in the last few years, in large part thanks to Anonymous. But on that Saturday afternoon, any differences were largely cast aside in favor of standing united in grief, in commemoration, especially in the conviction that the battle to preserve civil liberties has really only just begun.
On February 6th the 2nd circuit court of appeals will be hearing oral arguments in the lawsuit against section 1021 of the NDAA. Your attendance will communicate that the pubic is invested in the outcome of this ruling and unwilling to sit idly by as due process rights are eroded.
★★★ HEDGES et al. vs OBAMA, Second Circuit Appeals Court ★★★
Our Second Circuit court date has been set for:
DATE: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
TIME: 10am EST
PLACE: New York
United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit - Thurgood Marshall Court
Room 1505, 15th floor
40 Centre Street (40 Foley Square), NYC
Really glad to see more news of this.
Here’s just a preview of the Tar Sands Blockade mass action to stop the Keystone XL pipeline today in Nacogdoches, Texas:
- Four blockaders locked themselves down to construction and land clearing equipment early this morning. Two blockaders were pepper-sprayed, all four were arrested and two direct support comrades were also arrested.
Police used excessive force, especially when removing protesters from the land. Officers also refused to wipe the faces of the two blockaders who were pepper sprayed, leaving them covered in painful chemicals. They were all also refused water onsite. All six were released a couple of hours later.
- In an attempt to stop the cherry picker from extracting three tree-sitters, a swarm of protesters stood in the road to prevent the machine’s passing. A police officer immediately defended the machinery and pepper-sprayed the crowd without warning, striking a 75-year-old woman, a Nacogdoches resident and others at point blank. Two were arrested for blocking the road. Another comrade was also arrested at the tree-sit site.
- Three tree-sitters (photos of this awesome protest coming soon) were extracted from their platforms by a cherry picker this afternoon. They were all arrested, two were strip searched and all tree-sitters are still in jail. The charges against them are still unknown.
- Earlier in the day, east Texas residents and Tar Sands Blockade supporters held a rally in solidarity with the blockaders & tree-sitters. Solidarity actions were held in more than 40 cities worldwide.
More details & tons of photos coming soon, so stay tuned.
Following Bill McKibben’s “Do The Math" tour stop in Washington, D.C. Sunday, members of 350.org and other activists are marching around the White House urging President Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.
Following the march, which features a 500-foot mock pipeline, author and 350.org founder Bill McKibben, Sierra Club President Allison Chin and Oklahoma-based environmental leader Earl Hatley plan to speak on the pipeline and encouraged Obama to address climate change.
McKibben recently addressed Washington’s inaction on climate change. In an email to HuffPost’s Tom Zeller, McKibben wrote, “It’s true that D.C. hasn’t yet caught on… They’re still in the grip of the fossil fuel industry.”
Yet, Zeller points out:
The International Energy Agency released its annual World Energy Outlook this week, for example. Among the many points highlighted in the roundup: Global greenhouse gas emissions are increasing at a pace that could make things far hotter on planet Earth than anyone, given the choice, would likely care to endure.
That report came on the heels of another lengthy analysis, published by the National Research Council on behalf of the Central Intelligence Agency, which concluded that climate change is almost certain to destabilize the geopolitical chessboard, and as such it represents a clear concern for U.S. national security.
McKibben’s national “Do The Math” Tour comes on the heals of his July Rolling Stone article, "Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math," in which he warned, “to grasp the seriousness of our predicament, you just need to do a little math.”
A model of a Reaper Drone is pushed past the Duke Energy building as activists marched in the Coalition to March on Wall Street South, a 3-mile march Sunday, September 2, 2012, to spotlight Charlotte as the United States’ second-largest financial center, behind New York. Activists stopped in front of the headquarters of Bank of America and Duke Energy as they took to the streets in downtown Charlotte, site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
A recent two-day protest in Northern California against genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) led to the complete shutdown of a Monsanto corporate office for an entire day, according to reports. On Friday, March 16, 2012, activists affiliated with the Global Days of Action to Shut Down Monsantobegan rallying in front of the Davis, Calif., office of Monsanto, where they held up banners, gave speeches, and set up tents in front of the Monsanto building on Fifth Street, which caused the biotech giant to shutter its operations.
“In the course of the two-day event, activists held up signs, gave speeches to inform and inspire each other and solidify the movement, drafted a resolution about Monsanto with many proposed solutions to be presented to the California legislature, celebrated each other and went “freeway blogging” – displaying a large hand made banner that said, “Shut Down Monsanto” on the Pole Line Road overpass over I-80,” writes Mark Graham of Food Freedom. “Thousands of drivers were shown this message.”
Sponsored byThe Anti-Monsanto Project, thePeace & Freedom Party, and various chapters of theOccupymovement from around Northern California, the weekend rally in Davis serves as a template for activists in other cities to follow. All it took to shut down Monsanto, after all, was a few dozen people standing in front of the building — imagine what hundreds, or even thousands, of activists could together accomplish?
Awareness about GMOs and the fact that they continue to remain unlabeled in the American food supply is becoming a forefront issue in the public spotlight. And evidence of this is being fleshed out in California, Connecticut, Washington and nearly a dozen other states where mandatory GMO labeling laws have been proposed or are currently making their way through the legislative process.
The truth about the dangers and ineffectiveness of GMOs, as well as the extreme toxicity of Roundup (glyphosate) and the other chemical pesticides and herbicides used on GMOs, are also gaining national attention. A recent study published in theJournal of Toxicology in Vitro, for instance, revealed that even very low levels of Roundup destroy testosterone and lead to male infertility (http://www.naturalnews.com/035135_Roundup_herbicide_testosterone.html).
In 2009, theAmerican Academy of Environmental Medicine(AAEM) concluded that GMOs “pose a serious health risk,” and called for an immediate moratorium on their cultivation and use in food. Credible scientific studies continue to show that consumption of GMOs is linked to organ damage, gastrointestinal disorders, autoimmune illnesses, and infertility. GMOs also do not perform any better than natural or hybrid crops.
Sources for this article include:
Twitter - @TheOrangeCrew
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#DGR - Etheric Double Soundsystem “We Shall Overcome (The Great Mundane Mix)” excerpt from live video set (by @residentantihero)
excerpt from new live set featuring video backdrop…
music by: etheric double soundsystem
remixed by: the great mundane
vocal edits by: etheric double soundsystem
video by: B Media Collective
Nothing in my education had prepared me to get arrested at Marsh Fork that summer.
It was hot, worse because we were instructed to wear thick jeans in case we were dragged along the ground. It was humid as it always is in eastern summers, when air is sweet and sweaty. I was terrified.
The miners were waiting for us when we arrived at the rally at the Marsh Fork schoolyard—a school sitting underneath a dangerous coal sludge dam and just a few hundred feet from a processing plant. Kids were choking on coal dust, and the school had become a battleground between industry and anyone who challenged its absolute power.
As more and more people poured in holding signs that said “Stop Mountaintop Removal,” just as many arrived wearing miner’s reflective stripes and signs saying “Outsiders Go Home.” The crowd swelled and the rally began, but the angry miners used noisemakers to drown out the speakers’ voices—someone even pulled the plug on the PA system.
Earlier today, Cascadian activists took to Oregon’s state capitol in Salem to protest the plans for nearly doubling the annual clearcut in the Elliott State Forest. Read more on the Earthfirst! Newswire. Six were arrested, with a mass of folks singing in solidarity.
Can someone start a meme for ‘Clueless Secretary’?
Looking closer…Protesters donned masks of the animals they wanted to protect. (via OPB News)
more photos here