News Release Archive - 2013

In Wake of Philippines Disaster, Wealthy Countries Reneging on Climate Commitments at Summit

Share REDMAN, janet at
Director of the Climate Policy Program at the Institute for Policy Studies, Redman said today: “Developed countries gathered in Warsaw for the UN climate summit have responded to the worst weather-related disaster to hit the Philippines not by stepping up the fight against climate change, but by reneging on their moral and legal commitments. Canada, Japan and now Australia have gone backwards — not forward — on moves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And Australia has had the audacity to claim that supporting countries most vulnerable to climate change — like their island neighbors — shouldn’t be up to developed countries, even though these countries are responsible for the vast majority of climate pollution and agreed to make resources available when they signed the convention.

“What’s perhaps even more egregious is that the head of the UN climate convention, Christiana Figures, told parties gathered at a Business Day event held in parallel to the UN climate summit that coal is part of the solution to climate change. With leadership pushing dirty energy as a green fix, it’s no wonder that countries aren’t taking these talks seriously.”

The following analysts and activists from the Philippines are now in Warsaw (6 hours ahead of U.S. ET) at the climate summit which is scheduled to end on Friday:

MARIA THERESA NERA-LAURON, Skype: tetet.lauron, tlauron at
Nera-Lauron is coordinator of the People’s Movement on Climate Change and is with the group IBON International, both based in the Philippines. She said today: “The devastation in the Philippines should be reason enough for everybody to increase ambition AND action. We cannot afford to be stingy (in commitments) and conservative (in vision) — the world needs drastic and urgent emissions cuts.”

IBON International just released their first update from the Warsaw summit, noting that “fault lines between developed and developing countries are becoming clearer” with wealthy countries like Japan, Australia and Canada withdrawing from commitments. See: “Abbott government abandons emissions reduction target range.”

The group also notes: “Corporate influence of the UNFCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] is also becoming even more evident at this year’s meeting. A report from the non-government Corporate Europe Observatory, COP 19 is the first UN climate talks to have corporate sponsorship, including ArecelorMittal [steel and mining conglomerate], Alstom [energy and transportation conglomerate] and BMW. Poland, the host government, also announced that it is co-hosting a summit with the World Coal Association in the second week of the climate talks.”

WALDEN BELLO, via Herbert Docena, herbertdocena at
Bello is a member of the Philippine House of Representatives with the Akbayan (Citizens’ Action Party). Also a Foreign Policy In Focus columnist, Bello was a member of the boards of both Greenpeace International and Greenpeace Southeast Asia, which he helped set up. He recently wrote the piece “Hello Warsaw, This Is Haiyan Calling,” which states: “Countries like the Philippines and many other island-states are in the frontlines of climate change. Every year of massive and frequent disastrous climate events like Yolanda [called Haiyan outside the Philippines] and Pablo reminds them of the injustice of the situation. They are among those that have contributed least to climate change, yet they are its main victims.” Docena is a grad student studying in the U.S. who can connect media to climate activists from the Philippines now in Warsaw.

TESS VISTRO, vistrotess at
Vistro is with the National Federation of Peasant Women in the Philippines.

CLAIRE MIRANDA, Clairemiranda08 at
Miranda is with the group Jubilee South and spoke at the opening plenary session of the climate summit. See video.

LIDY NACPIL, lnacpil at
Nacpil is with the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice. She recently wrote the piece “Super Typhoon Haiyan: World Must Act on Climate Change” for the Huffington Post.

GERRY ARANCES, gerry.arances at
Arances is with the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice and was featured on the program “Democracy Now!” this morning.

Is Sentencing of Anonymous Hacktivist Part of “State’s Plan to Criminalize Democratic Dissent”?

Share Guardian reports: “Jeremy Hammond, the Anonymous hacktivist who released millions of emails relating to the private intelligence firm Stratfor, has denounced his prosecution and lengthy prison sentence as a ‘vengeful, spiteful act’ designed to put a chill on politically-motivated hacking.

“Hammond was sentenced on Friday at federal court in Manhattan to the maximum 10 years in jail, plus three years supervised release.”

KEVIN GOSZTOLA, kevin.gosztola at, @kgosztola
Gosztola was at Hammond’s sentencing today. He writes “The Dissenter” blog for Firedoglake and is co-author of the book Truth & Consequences: The U.S. vs. Private Manning.

He said today: “The judge in Jeremy Hammond’s sentencing seemed to adopt just about all of the government’s arguments in their sentencing memo to the court. She did not find it reasonable to consider that Hammond’s acts were civil disobedience as argued by his lawyers

“It appears that what happened in this case is that the judge did not want to distinguish between good hacking and bad hacking in the same way that judges have not wanted to distinguish between good leaking and bad leaking.

“What is clear going forward is that there is no legal avenue for hacktivists to argue that what they are doing is public service and not intended to harm other people.”

Gosztola recently wrote: “Jeremy Hammond worked with Anonymous to hack into Stratfor and release information from the firm. The material was eventually published by WikiLeaks.

“While uncharged, he also admitted in a statement after he pled guilty to one count of violating the CFAA [Computer Fraud and Abuse Act], that he had hacked into other websites including ‘military and police equipment suppliers, private intelligence and information security firms, and law enforcement agencies.’ He said he did this because he believed ‘people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors.’ …

“The damage to Stratfor was insurmountable for the firm, but it should not go unmentioned that the FBI had an informant, Hector Xavier Monsegur (‘Sabu’), involved in the operation to go into Stratfor’s network and obtain files for release. FBI officials claim they did not sit idly by and let this operation unfold as Stratfor was infiltrated, but they did apparently instruct or authorize Monsegur to have all the data obtained from the hack placed on one of the FBI’s own computers. …

“Ahead of Hammond’s sentencing, Hammond’s lawyers collected 265 letters of support that call for a ‘sentence of time-served.’ They were written by friends, family, academics, journalists, individuals from the tech community and notable whistleblowers.

“Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said in a letter, ‘I believe the actions taken by Jeremy Hammond need to be viewed in a context that considers the profound consequences of private surveillance of political activists in the United States.'”

Also, see recent interview with Chris Hedges on The Real News: “Hedges: Jeremy Hammond Exposed State’s Plan to Criminalize Democratic Dissent.”

Like Big Tobacco, Should Fossil Fuel Industry Pay for Climate Disasters?


MICHAEL DORSEY, mkdorsey at, @GreenHejira
Currently at the climate talks in Warsaw, which go through next week, Dorsey is co-author of “The Plan: How the U.S. Can Help Stabilize The Climate and Create A Clean Energy Future,” from the Wesleyan Climate Project.

He said today: “A key problem developing in the negotiations is the American stalling on properly setting up a functional loss and damage mechanism. Secretary John Kerry and the president can and must work to set specific commitments and identify realistic budgets to address the growing crises nations like the Philippines are facing and many more shall experience. Doing less will endanger countless lives.”

DAPHNE WYSHAM, daphne at, @daphnewysham
Wysham is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and director of the Genuine Progress Project. She said today: “Just as the tobacco industry was eventually forced to pay for the health care costs of tobacco smokers, we need to get the fossil fuel industry to pay for the enormous humanitarian response in the aftermath of superstorms like Haiyan, which recently ripped across the Philippines killing thousands. We must move from a de facto policy of promoting voluntary individual donations and government assistance in the aftermath of superstorms — as though it is charity in response to an ‘act of God’ — to a policy of financial obligation by the perpetrators of this climate chaos: the oil, gas and coal industries. Government inaction on climate change, and continued support of the fossil fuel industry, has deadly consequences. Until the polluter pays and pays heavily, the cost of these consequences will only rise.”

Secret TPP Text Leaked as Left and Right Criticize “Corporate Power Grab”

Share today released “the secret negotiated draft text for the entire TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the largest-ever economic treaty, encompassing nations representing more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP.”

The New York Times reports that while “the Obama administration is rushing” the TPP “before the end of the year” that “two new House letters with about 170 signatories in total — the latest and strongest iteration of long-simmering opposition to fast-track authority and to the trade deal more broadly — have been disclosed just a week before international negotiators are to meet in Salt Lake City for another round of talks. … ‘This could be the end of TPP,’ said Lori Wallach of Public Citizen, a watchdog group that has opposed the deal.”

LORI WALLACH, via Thomas Dewar, tdewar at
Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, Wallach said today: “Even before today’s WikiLeaks posting of the TPP copyright and patent text and its threats to affordable medicine and Internet freedom, House Democrats and Republicans have announced opposition to fast track authority for TPP.” The group just posted “What’s New in the WikiLeaks Text” and other breaking content.

A group of 151 House Democrats just released a letter opposing fast track authority for TPP, noting that: “For sometime, members of Congress have urged your administration to engage in broader and deeper consultations with members of the full range of committees of Congress whose jurisdiction touches on the numerous issues being negotiated. [See PDF]. Similarly, yesterday, a group of House Republicans sent a letter to President Obama noting that the TPP is not simply about tariffs, but also “labor policy, food and agricultural standards, environmental concerns, patent and copyright use, and regulations impacting many service sector industries, among many others.”

Public Citizen also recently sent a letter to NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman following reports in the New York Times article “No Morsel Too Minuscule for All-Consuming NSA,” that the NSA doled out information to “customers” like the U.S. Trade Representative, as a result of its spying programs. [PDF]

ROBERT NAIMAN, naiman at, @naiman
Naiman is policy director of Just Foreign Policy. He said today: “We had issued a crowdsourced reward for WikiLeaks to publish the TPP text that now stands at more than $70,000 — see: By publishing the secret TPP text, WikiLeaks is sparking a public debate about the contents of this agreement that wasn’t possible when the agreement was secret from public opinion. This was our goal in issuing the reward. These events demonstrate that it’s not only in the realm of purported ‘national security’ that governments are keeping policies secret from the public to undermine democratic accountability.”

FIFA RAHMAN, fifarahman at, @fifarahman
Rahman said today: “We at the Malaysian AIDS Council are disappointed and appalled that the United States continues to push for TRIPS+ [Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights] provisions in the face of so much opposition, including that of Malaysia’s. President Obama has in the past spoken about zero AIDS deaths. How can this be achieved when his administration is endorsing delays in entry of generics and price increases of medicines? We still worry whether provisions on biologic medicines will be inserted at the last minute and decided upon by heads of states.” See her recent piece “An All-American Puppet Show: TPPA and Medicines.”

MARGARET FLOWERS, M.D., mdpnhp at, @MFlowers8
Flowers served as congressional fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program and is now co-director of It’s Our Economy and co-hosts “Clearing the FOG” radio show. She wrote the piece “Trans-Pacific Partnership Undermines Health System,” which states: “While the TPP is being called a trade agreement, the U.S. already has trade agreements [with most of the] countries involved in the talks. Instead, the TPP is a major power grab by large corporations.

“The text of the TPP includes 29 chapters, only five of which are about trade. The remaining chapters are focused on changes that multinational corporations have not been able to pass in Congress, such as restrictions on Internet privacy, increased patent protections, greater access to litigation and further financial deregulation.”

She said today: “The TPP has been shrouded in secrecy from the beginning because the Obama administration knows that the more people know about it, the more they will oppose the agreement. The release of the full Intellectual Property chapter today by WikiLeaks confirms what had been suspected — that the Obama administration has been an advocate for transnational corporate interests in the negotiations even though they run counter to the needs and desires of the public.

“This is not surprising since we already knew that 600 corporate advisers were working with the U.S. Trade Representative to draft the TPP. This means that for nearly four years some of the top corporate lawyers have been inserting phrases, paragraphs and whole sections so the agreement suits the needs of corporate power, while undermining the interests of people and planet.” Flowers called for a “new approach — transparency, participation of civil society throughout the process, full congressional review and participation, and a framework that starts with fair trade that puts people and the planet before profits.” She is involved with the group

Behind the Fast Food Strikes

Share These Times has published the first investigative report of the nationwide fast-food worker organizing campaign known as Fight for 15. Since late 2012 fast-food workers have staged day-long strikes in cities across the country four times, with a fifth walkout planned for December 2013. Reporter Arun Gupta examines the roots of the campaign, uncovers the central role played by the Service Employees International Union, and reveals the union’s detailed plan for trying to pressure the fast-food giants to raise wages and allow workers to form unions.

Even more importantly, says Gupta, “Workers and organizers involved in the campaign are asking if Fight for 15 is about organizing workers into a long-term movement or a ‘march on the media.’ More than 20 workers and organizers who talked to In These Times say they support the organizing drive, but are troubled by what they say is a lack of respect for workers, resistance to worker control, a rubberstamp decision-making process, and the overall direction of the campaign. Time and again they described how the media focus undermines the actual organizing in fast-food shops and discourages worker involvement.”

Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times calls the In These Times report a “Good inside, in-depth look at the Fast Food-Fight for Fifteen Movement.”

ARUN GUPTA, arun.indypendent at, @arunindy
Founder of the co-founder of the Occupied Wall Street Journal and The Indypendent, Gupta wrote the piece “Fight For 15 Confidential.”

TRISH KAHLE, trish.kahle at
Kahle (pronounced Kaj-luh) is a member of the Working Organizing Committee of Chicago and a health-food store employee. She recently wrote the piece “Beyond Fast Food Strikes” and said today: “Low-wage workers organizing in the Fight for 15 need to come to grips with the past failures of SEIU, but people who dismiss this movement are discounting the transformative effect it has had on workers, and the potential of workers to take this campaign further than anyone could have imagined. Organized labor has been in the tank for years, and those who write off this campaign are only helping to ensure it will be that much harder to revive in the future.”

Typhoon Hiayan “Demonstrating How Global South Pays Price for Emissions Historically from North”

Share the last major climate conference in 2012 in Doha, Tetet Lauron, a delegate from the Philippines, spoke of the devastating effects of Typhoon Bopha that hit the Philippines during that conference, killing hundreds. She said then: “I am Tetet. I am a citizen of the world. This is not an equal nor equitable or world — and I’ve had enough! To the wealthy, industrialized countries who are bracking and deleting away the survival of the people of the developing world [a reference to the rich nations’ tactics during negotiations over text]: You’ve used up more than the lion’s share of the world’s resources and you are historically the world’s largest polluters. We want you to commit — and honor those commitments. …” See video.

ANNE PETERMAN, globalecology at, @Climatejustice1
Petermann is executive director of the Global Justice Ecology Project, which runs the blog. She said today: “With Typhoon Hiayan ripping through the Philippines, we are once again staring climate catastrophe square in the face. This typhoon, with winds up to 230 mph is being called the strongest cyclone ever to make landfall. But it is likely just the beginning.

“The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this past September was once again clear in its warning that a warming globe means more unstable weather. The waters of the Pacific that fed this typhoon were unusually warm, lending tremendous energy to the storm.

“Typhoon Haiyan is ravaging the Philippines only a few days before the opening of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw, Poland on Nov. 11, where once again it is predicted that no concrete action to limit climate change emissions will take place.

“But this storm should be a wake up call to the UN negotiators in Warsaw regarding the concrete impacts of their decades of inaction.

“Typhoon Haiyan is once again demonstrating how countries in the Global South sit directly in the path of the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions historically put out by the Global North.

“We are trying to reach our colleague, Tetet Lauron, of the Peoples’ Movement on Climate Change, who is based in Manila for first hand word of this storm, but so far phone calls are not going through.”

Also see Institute for Public Accuracy news release from 2012 Doha conference: “Doha Deal will Result in “Unprecedented Ecological and Social Collapse.’

For Veteran’s Day: “They Were Soldiers”

Share Day is Monday.

Matthieu Aikins has broken a series of stories in Rolling Stone: “The A-Team Killings” and “Watch Highly Disturbing Footage of Detainee Abuses in Afghanistan.”

ANN JONES, via Jim Plank, jim at
Jones wrote the just-released book They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars: The Untold Story.

She also just wrote the piece “They Didn’t Know What They Were Getting Into: The Cost of War American-Style,” which states: “As I followed the sad trail of damaged veterans … I came to see how much they and their families have suffered, like Afghans, from the delusions of this nation’s leaders — many running counter to international law — and of other influential Americans, in and out of the military, more powerful and less accountable than themselves.

“Like the soldiers, the country has changed. Muted now is the braggadocio of the bring-‘em-on decider who started the preemptive process that ate the children of the poor and patriotic. Now, in Afghanistan as in Iraq, Washington scrambles to make the exit look less like a defeat — or worse, pointless waste. Most Americans no longer ask what the wars were for.

“‘Follow the money,’ a furious Army officer, near the end of his career, instructed me. I had spent my time with poor kids in search of an honorable future who do the grunt work of America’s military. They are part of the nation’s lowliest 1%. But as that angry career officer told me, ‘They only follow orders.’ It’s the other 1% at the top who are served by war, the great American engine that powers the transfer of wealth from the public treasury upward and into their pockets. Following that money trail reveals the real point of the chosen conflicts. As that disillusioned officer put it to me, the wars have made those profiteers ‘monufuckinmentally rich.’ It’s the soldiers and their families who lost out.”

Missing from Immigration Debate: What Causes Migration?

Share New York Times reports: “On Wednesday, the AFL-CIO announced it would spend more than $1 million in five districts over the next two weeks on television ads that sharply blame Republicans for the lack of immigration action in the House.”

Earlier this week, USA Today reported “Obama Renews Push for an Immigration Overhaul,” noting: “The business executives who attended Tuesday’s meeting with Obama included Roger Altman, founder and chairman of Evercore Partners; Greg Brown, chairman and CEO of Motorola Solution; Joe Echevarria, CEO of Deloitte; Marillyn Hewson, CEO and president of Lockheed Martin; Edward Rust, chairman and CEO of State Farm; Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott; Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of Blackstone; and Don Thompson, president and CEO of McDonalds.”

Associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, Pérez-Rocha said today: “The big question ‘What causes migration?’ is constantly missing in the immigration debate in the United States. That is, the push factors — or what is it that pushes millions of Mexicans and Central Americans to migrate? An important push factor is U.S. policy.

“The destruction of local economies and rural livelihoods by IMF and World Bank structural adjustment policies since the 80s and more recently by U.S.-led free trade agreements like NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement], as well as DR-CAFTA [Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement], is what forces so many workers to look for jobs, and get money to send back home to their impoverished families — not the search for the ever more elusive ‘American dream.’

“In Mexico the myth of a growing ‘middle class’ has been busted by official figures that indicate that most Mexicans are poor and belong to the working class. And while some applaud the recovery of Mexico’s manufacturing sector, this is due to the fact that Mexico’s wages are even lower than China’s. This may be beneficial for investors but it is detrimental to the Mexican worker, and ultimately migration to the U.S. may resume. One of the reasons why it has slowed down is the downturn of the U.S. economy, but if it picks up, the push for migration will resume.”

Note: NAFTA reaches its 20th anniversary on January 1, 2014.

Referendums on Issues: * NJ Minimum Wage * Fracking and GMO Labeling * Voting Reform

Share SKLAR, KELLY CONKLIN, via Bob Keener, bob at
USA Today reports: “New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday to raise the minimum wage by $1, to $8.25 an hour, and add automatic cost-of-living increases each year. … [Gov. Chris Christie] vetoed a bill last year that would have raised the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour with annual inflation adjustments.”

Director of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, Sklar said today: “At $7.25, the minimum wage has less buying power now than it did in 1950. New Jersey joins New York, Connecticut and California in taking action this year to raise their state minimums while the federal minimum wage is stuck in the past.” Conklin is co-owner of Foley Waite Associates, a woodworking firm in Kenilworth, N.J., and a steering committee member of the New Jersey Main Street Alliance. He said today: “It’s time we reinforced the better business model of businesses that pay a living wage. Raising the wage floor while insuring raises in the future is the best way to do that.”

MARK SCHLOSBERG, DARCEY RAKESTRAW, drakestraw at, @foodandwater
National organizing director for Food & Water Watch, Schlosberg said today: “The story of this election is that communities can win against big corporate money if we organize from the ground up. In Colorado, three cities successfully stopped fracking and a fourth is too close to call, despite nearly $900,000 being spent by big oil and gas interests supported by Governor Hickenlooper, who has publicly opposed community efforts to halt fracking. In Washington, the GE labeling initiative is still too close to call, despite record sums being spent by big junk food and chemical companies to mislead the public in an off-year election. Still, the massive amounts of money spent by large corporate interests against popular measures highlights the need to continue organizing as we strive to protect our essential resources and take back our democracy.” Rakestraw is communications director for the group. Reuters reports: “Despite early strong support … polling suggested sentiment against the measure was growing due to an onslaught of corporate-financed advertising before the referendum.”

ROB RICHIE, rr at, @fairvote
Executive director of FairVote based in Takoma Park, Md., Richie is the leading national advocate of ranked choice voting, both as a means to elect single winners and to elect legislators in multi-member districts, as explained in a recent Washington Post oped. Richie said today: “Minneapolis had its first open seat election for mayor with ranked choice voting and voters handled RCV very well. St. Paul, Takoma Park, Cambridge (Mass.) and San Francisco also all had RCV races. Cambridge’s elections and some of Minneapolis’ elections were held with the multi-seat form of RCV that is a candidate-based form of proportional representation. There were big changes in these elections, and new diversity among winners, including Cambridge’s first Latino city councilor.

“In statewide elections, Virginia’s gubernatorial race shows that RCV is not a partisan issue, but a fairness one. The Libertarian Party candidate Robert Sarvis was kept out of debates, making it harder for him to stay at 10 percent to keep the Libertarians as a ballot-qualified party, but still won far more votes than the margin of victory between Democratic winner Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli. Down ballot, Republicans won a huge majority in the House of Delegates races largely because of a gerrymandered map that would best be fixed by RCV.” See video.

“Also, we played the lead role in introducing the idea of lowing the voting age to 16 here in Takoma Park — the first in nation to do so. Turnout among those newly enfranchised voters outpaced city turnout overall.”

Congo Peace Can Only Begin When U.S. Ally Rwanda “Ceases Interventions”

Share CARNEY, info at, @congofriends
Executive director of Friends of the Congo, Carney stressed that: “Contrary to many media reports, the M23 announcement that they are laying down their arms does not end the conflict in Congo. The story is really whether this is the end of Rwanda’s intervention.”

See Daily Telegraph report of Oct. 31: “Rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo are close to defeat after the foreign ministers of both America and Britain called the president of neighboring Rwanda and urged him not to intervene to support them, The Daily Telegraph has learned. John Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state, and William Hague, the foreign secretary, telephoned Paul Kagame separately last Friday and told him to stay out of the conflict.”

Said Carney: “Ultimately a political solution is needed between DRC and U.S. ally Rwanda whereby Rwanda ceases its interventions in DRC. A sign that we are on this path will be when Rwanda turns over the many war criminals who are in Rwanda and wanted in Congo for the mass crimes that they have committed.

“The long overdue pressure placed on Rwanda by the U.S. and UK was critical to bringing an end to Rwanda’s latest proxy, M23, in the DRC since 1996.

“A second structural obstacle must be tackled to advance peace in the Congo — a legitimate government that can act in and protect the interests of the Congolese people.

“It is vital that we keep the pressure on the U.S. government to cease its support of strongmen in the heart of Africa. … The Congo has seen the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II, with an estimated 6 million killed.”