Occupy Appalachia
Karen Gorrell choked back tears one Saturday in early March as she pulled the final stake from the tent that had been her home for the past 75 days. Last fall, the protracted struggle she led for retired workers from Century Aluminum Corporation found itself an accidental part of the Occupy movement. “I’m elated that a bunch of little senior citizens can take on corporate giants in West Virginia,” Gorrell said.
The group fought to have their healthcare benefits reinstated after the company unilaterally dropped coverage for more than 500 retirees and their families. After more than a year of organizing, protests and, ultimately, a physical occupation, the Occupy Century group reached a settlement with the company late last month that will restore those health benefits and grant $44 million to the retirees over 10 years, with up to $25 million in additional contributions to follow.
“I love these people,” Gorrell, 62, said about her fellow occupiers, whose ages range from early sixties to mid-eighties. “This is the closest family you could have in the world.” Gorrell is married to a Century retiree and describes herself as a high school graduate, a community volunteer and a grandmother.
The Century Aluminum factory in Ravenswood, W.Va., had seen struggles before. In 1990, 1,700 union workers at what was then called Ravenswood Aluminum Corporation were locked out in an effort to drastically cut wages. The ensuing “Battle of Fort RAC” was a divisive conflict for the Jackson County community; the negotiations that ended the two-year lockout and picket resulted in workers forced to take a significant pay cut in exchange for healthcare retirement accounts. When the plant closed in 2009, laying off 651 workers, Century Aluminum promised workers that their health benefits would continue.
In June 2010, however, the company announced it would be terminating health coverage for its retirees and keeping the $25 million that workers had paid into their pensions. “You’ve been exposed to every hazardous chemical in the book—asbestos, coal tar pitch, all kinds of extreme hazards from aluminum—and when the men retire and they’re actually beginning to suffer from the exposure, then the company comes in and just pulls out the rug,” Gorrell said.
Not only that, but Century Aluminum qualified for and was accepted by—yet chose not to participate in—the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, a provision of the Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed into law in 2010, which grants federal funding to help cover retirees’ health care costs. The company later accepted EERP funding; in the fourth quarter of 2010, Century reported a net income of $65.3 million citing “changes to the retiree medical benefits program [that] increased quarterly results by $56.7 million.”
“It’s not only morally wrong, it is absolutely criminal what they’re doing to America’s most vulnerable people,” Gorrell said, “and the sad part is, the federal court system is upholding these decisions by these corporations.”
Not this time…
Continue this story at the new Occupy News site Occupy.com

Occupy Appalachia

Karen Gorrell choked back tears one Saturday in early March as she pulled the final stake from the tent that had been her home for the past 75 days. Last fall, the protracted struggle she led for retired workers from Century Aluminum Corporation found itself an accidental part of the Occupy movement. “I’m elated that a bunch of little senior citizens can take on corporate giants in West Virginia,” Gorrell said.

The group fought to have their healthcare benefits reinstated after the company unilaterally dropped coverage for more than 500 retirees and their families. After more than a year of organizing, protests and, ultimately, a physical occupation, the Occupy Century group reached a settlement with the company late last month that will restore those health benefits and grant $44 million to the retirees over 10 years, with up to $25 million in additional contributions to follow.

“I love these people,” Gorrell, 62, said about her fellow occupiers, whose ages range from early sixties to mid-eighties. “This is the closest family you could have in the world.” Gorrell is married to a Century retiree and describes herself as a high school graduate, a community volunteer and a grandmother.

The Century Aluminum factory in Ravenswood, W.Va., had seen struggles before. In 1990, 1,700 union workers at what was then called Ravenswood Aluminum Corporation were locked out in an effort to drastically cut wages. The ensuing “Battle of Fort RAC” was a divisive conflict for the Jackson County community; the negotiations that ended the two-year lockout and picket resulted in workers forced to take a significant pay cut in exchange for healthcare retirement accounts. When the plant closed in 2009, laying off 651 workers, Century Aluminum promised workers that their health benefits would continue.

In June 2010, however, the company announced it would be terminating health coverage for its retirees and keeping the $25 million that workers had paid into their pensions. “You’ve been exposed to every hazardous chemical in the book—asbestos, coal tar pitch, all kinds of extreme hazards from aluminum—and when the men retire and they’re actually beginning to suffer from the exposure, then the company comes in and just pulls out the rug,” Gorrell said.

Not only that, but Century Aluminum qualified for and was accepted by—yet chose not to participate in—the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program, a provision of the Affordable Care Act that President Obama signed into law in 2010, which grants federal funding to help cover retirees’ health care costs. The company later accepted EERP funding; in the fourth quarter of 2010, Century reported a net income of $65.3 million citing “changes to the retiree medical benefits program [that] increased quarterly results by $56.7 million.”

“It’s not only morally wrong, it is absolutely criminal what they’re doing to America’s most vulnerable people,” Gorrell said, “and the sad part is, the federal court system is upholding these decisions by these corporations.”

Not this time…

Continue this story at the new Occupy News site Occupy.com

This is from Paul D’Amato’s recent article called “Diversity of tactics or unity in action?” on the question of violence as a tactic:
As Ahmed Shawki wrote, in the context of the 2001 mass demonstrations against the G8 summit in Genoa, Italy:

The question of tactics, of violence and nonviolence, must flow from the aims of the movement. The Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky once said that if all it took was to yell “Charge!” in every battle, no matter what the balance of forces is, no matter the terrain, no matter who the enemy is, or no matter who’s on your side, then any idiot can be a revolutionary general. Those who run the system have shown that they will respond violently against our movement. We can’t go around simply talking about doing our own thing and expect that there won’t be a price to pay.

Marxists don’t equate the violence of the oppressor with the violence of the oppressed; the former is overwhelming, widespread and systematic. To expect a purely peaceful social revolution—particularly in the U.S., against what Martin Luther King once called “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”—is to live in a fantasy world.
But at the same time, we don’t fetishize violence or street fighting. For us, the most important question is how to build a movement that draws into it masses of workers and the oppressed.

This is from Paul D’Amato’s recent article called “Diversity of tactics or unity in action?” on the question of violence as a tactic:

As Ahmed Shawki wrote, in the context of the 2001 mass demonstrations against the G8 summit in Genoa, Italy:

The question of tactics, of violence and nonviolence, must flow from the aims of the movement. The Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky once said that if all it took was to yell “Charge!” in every battle, no matter what the balance of forces is, no matter the terrain, no matter who the enemy is, or no matter who’s on your side, then any idiot can be a revolutionary general. Those who run the system have shown that they will respond violently against our movement. We can’t go around simply talking about doing our own thing and expect that there won’t be a price to pay.

Marxists don’t equate the violence of the oppressor with the violence of the oppressed; the former is overwhelming, widespread and systematic. To expect a purely peaceful social revolution—particularly in the U.S., against what Martin Luther King once called “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”—is to live in a fantasy world.

But at the same time, we don’t fetishize violence or street fighting. For us, the most important question is how to build a movement that draws into it masses of workers and the oppressed.

MAY 1 GENERAL STRIKE ORGANIZE NOW

Occupy May Day General Strike Facebook

Follow link. Invite your friends (in 100 person increments thanks to Facebook’s new limitations on organizing). Personally, I suggest going down the alphabet so you can remember where you left off. They only allow you to invite 100 friends every few hours. Share on your facebook wall. Reblog. Total time invested…100 seconds? Do it.

To all my beautiful revolutionaries and concerned citizens out there who (like us) couldn’t make it to Occupy Congress. It’s okay. Soak in the inspiration but remember, this isn’t the first huge march and it certainly won’t be the last. We’re in this for life. Be in this for life. We won’t stop until we have the new world that we know is possible. Never doubt our ability to affect change, to organize on a mass scale or to reach out and help the people of this world who are suffering. Get involved and never stop. Our inexhaustible dedication will be what makes the difference. And the next march, it’s OUR turn to show up and demonstrate.

Occupy Denver Facilitates Non-Hierarchical Discussions
Throughout the duration of Occupy Denver, there have been numerous  discussions amongst participants about a wide range of societal and  political issues. Unfortunately, often these arguments have resulted in  hostilities that have led participants to such extreme measures as  contacting the police, and in some cases, no longer attending Occupy. It  has created division amongst people. Despite these discussions, Occupy  has lacked a forum for these disagreements to be fully explored and one  another’s perspectives fully understood. One of the inspiring aspects of  the first few months of Occupy Denver was that it was a forum for  people to discuss their hopes and visions of a better world. Subsequent  antagonisms between people have diminished this imaginative spirit and  the strong sense of community that stemmed from it.
Thus, we are announcing the creation of an informal, non-hierarchical  forum/discussion group in which people can discuss a variety of  political, societal, and movement-related issues with the hopes of fully  understanding one another, becoming a more cohesive group, and simply  voicing our opinions. The intent is NOT to create an atmosphere wherein  everyone must be polite. Heated debates are encouraged. What we want to  avoid is hostilities that stem from misunderstandings reducing the  potential of this movement to accomplish fundamental societal change.  Further, having a social, cultural, and intellectual component is vital  to the success of any social movement.
As such, we encourage everyone to attend the first discussion THIS COMING SUNDAY at 5 PM in Civic Center Park. The first discussion will be about Capitalism (future discussion topics to be announced).

Occupy Denver Facilitates Non-Hierarchical Discussions

Throughout the duration of Occupy Denver, there have been numerous discussions amongst participants about a wide range of societal and political issues. Unfortunately, often these arguments have resulted in hostilities that have led participants to such extreme measures as contacting the police, and in some cases, no longer attending Occupy. It has created division amongst people. Despite these discussions, Occupy has lacked a forum for these disagreements to be fully explored and one another’s perspectives fully understood. One of the inspiring aspects of the first few months of Occupy Denver was that it was a forum for people to discuss their hopes and visions of a better world. Subsequent antagonisms between people have diminished this imaginative spirit and the strong sense of community that stemmed from it.

Thus, we are announcing the creation of an informal, non-hierarchical forum/discussion group in which people can discuss a variety of political, societal, and movement-related issues with the hopes of fully understanding one another, becoming a more cohesive group, and simply voicing our opinions. The intent is NOT to create an atmosphere wherein everyone must be polite. Heated debates are encouraged. What we want to avoid is hostilities that stem from misunderstandings reducing the potential of this movement to accomplish fundamental societal change. Further, having a social, cultural, and intellectual component is vital to the success of any social movement.

As such, we encourage everyone to attend the first discussion THIS COMING SUNDAY at 5 PM in Civic Center Park.
The first discussion will be about Capitalism (future discussion topics to be announced).

Stop fracking in North Texas

A fightback against fracking is brewing, report Clinton McBride and Kevin Hayes.

NORTH TEXAS lies above a 5,000-square mile layer of rock called the Barnett Shale, spanning at least 18 counties. Within this shale is natural gas, which has long been considered unexploitable. But since the early 2000s, the region has become one of the natural gas industry’s largest targets.
New technology developed in the North Texas region led to the development of a process called hydraulic fracturing to obtain the natural gas. Now the gas industry is attempting to deploy this process in Texas and 27 other states, from Montana to New York.
For anyone who hasn’t seen the Oscar-nominated film Gasland, here’s how it works: workers drill down to the desired layer of rock, then drill horizontally, then explode the rock to create fractures. These fractures are expanded by a high-pressure mixture of millions of gallons of water, sand, gelling agents, lubricants, compressed gases and “proprietary chemicals.”
The number of natural gas wells on the Barnett Shale has jumped from 150 in 1993 to 15,000 today—and growing. It’s easy to see why the corporations involved in the extraction, distribution and use of natural gas are excited—big, quick and easy profits.
But for the people of North Texas, the “innovation” of fracking, as hydraulic fracturing is called for short, is a nightmare. The water table as well as local rivers and water formations are infected with poisons used and/or unleashed by fracking, resulting in dying animals and exposure to toxins for those dependent on the water to drink.
In areas where fracking takes place, the air is filled with carcinogens and asthma-inducing compounds. The earth dug out of the ground, including radioactive heavy metals, is then “land farmed,” a euphemism for smearing it around on land near people not rich enough or connected enough to stop it. And to add insult to injury, there are now never-before-seen earthquakes in the area—a total of 24 since 2006, compared to just one from 1906 to 2006.
As if this weren’t bad enough, the whole process is done to extract natural gas, a fossil fuel that still contributes to global warming, despite the industry’s mantra that natural gas is “clean energy.”
FULL ARTICLE HERE

Stop fracking in North Texas

A fightback against fracking is brewing, report Clinton McBride and Kevin Hayes.

NORTH TEXAS lies above a 5,000-square mile layer of rock called the Barnett Shale, spanning at least 18 counties. Within this shale is natural gas, which has long been considered unexploitable. But since the early 2000s, the region has become one of the natural gas industry’s largest targets.

New technology developed in the North Texas region led to the development of a process called hydraulic fracturing to obtain the natural gas. Now the gas industry is attempting to deploy this process in Texas and 27 other states, from Montana to New York.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the Oscar-nominated film Gasland, here’s how it works: workers drill down to the desired layer of rock, then drill horizontally, then explode the rock to create fractures. These fractures are expanded by a high-pressure mixture of millions of gallons of water, sand, gelling agents, lubricants, compressed gases and “proprietary chemicals.”

The number of natural gas wells on the Barnett Shale has jumped from 150 in 1993 to 15,000 today—and growing. It’s easy to see why the corporations involved in the extraction, distribution and use of natural gas are excited—big, quick and easy profits.

But for the people of North Texas, the “innovation” of fracking, as hydraulic fracturing is called for short, is a nightmare. The water table as well as local rivers and water formations are infected with poisons used and/or unleashed by fracking, resulting in dying animals and exposure to toxins for those dependent on the water to drink.

In areas where fracking takes place, the air is filled with carcinogens and asthma-inducing compounds. The earth dug out of the ground, including radioactive heavy metals, is then “land farmed,” a euphemism for smearing it around on land near people not rich enough or connected enough to stop it. And to add insult to injury, there are now never-before-seen earthquakes in the area—a total of 24 since 2006, compared to just one from 1906 to 2006.

As if this weren’t bad enough, the whole process is done to extract natural gas, a fossil fuel that still contributes to global warming, despite the industry’s mantra that natural gas is “clean energy.”

FULL ARTICLE HERE

The fierce occupation of Occupy Nigeria continues (despite harsh police retaliation which has led to the murder of multiple protesters).
'Occupy Nigeria' emerges ahead of mass strike

Nigerian lawmakers on Sunday turned against the president’s decision to end government fuel subsidies that kept gasoline prices low, just ahead of a planned labor strike that could paralyzeAfrica's most populous nation.

Meeting in an emergency session, Nigeria’s House of Representatives shouted down supporters of President Goodluck Jonathan as they voted for a resolution calling on him to restore subsidies that cost the country about $8 billion a year. But their moves went unnoticed by unions preparing for a nationwide strike scheduled to begin Monday.
"There exists a 1 percent cabal. It is upon this plank and premise the executive seeks to remove the subsidy," said Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, a member of the opposition party Action Congress of Nigeria. “This cabal and their associates represent perhaps the biggest economic and financial crime in the history of Nigeria.”

The fierce occupation of Occupy Nigeria continues (despite harsh police retaliation which has led to the murder of multiple protesters).

'Occupy Nigeria' emerges ahead of mass strike

Nigerian lawmakers on Sunday turned against the president’s decision to end government fuel subsidies that kept gasoline prices low, just ahead of a planned labor strike that could paralyzeAfrica's most populous nation.

Meeting in an emergency session, Nigeria’s House of Representatives shouted down supporters of President Goodluck Jonathan as they voted for a resolution calling on him to restore subsidies that cost the country about $8 billion a year. But their moves went unnoticed by unions preparing for a nationwide strike scheduled to begin Monday.

"There exists a 1 percent cabal. It is upon this plank and premise the executive seeks to remove the subsidy," said Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, a member of the opposition party Action Congress of Nigeria. “This cabal and their associates represent perhaps the biggest economic and financial crime in the history of Nigeria.”