Friday, July 18, 2014

Enbridge Energy's Black Gold Rush

Enbridge Energy is on track to create the largest pipeline of tar sands crude oil in the country. By the end of next year, the company expects to expand Line 61, which runs from Superior, Wisconsin, to Flanagan, Illinois, to 1.2 million barrels per day—50 percent more than Trans–Canada’s controversial Keystone XL. Line 61 was built in 2007 to carry up to 400,000 barrels per day. It’s now undergoing the first phase of a two–part expansion.

The Keystone XL, which would carry up to 830,000 barrels per day, has met staunch resistance from climate change groups in the US and Canada, who have made it a focal point of the environmental movement.  <continue article . . . >

Runaway Train: The Reckless Expansion of Crude-by-Rail in North America

This report tracks the rise of crude-by-rail in North America, detailing where crude trains are being loaded and unloaded, how many trains carrying crude oil are crossing the North American continent, and who is involved in this burgeoning trade.

This report is the first in a series covering North America’s booming crude-by-rail industry and is being published in conjunction with a unique interactive online map of crude-by-rail
terminals and potential routes.

Friday, July 11, 2014

How the Tribe Got Swindled by Duluth Over the Fond-du-Luth Casino

As we understand it today, the conflict over Fond–du–Luth Casino started in 2009 when the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa stopped paying the City of Duluth a 19 percent share of the casino’s gross slot machine revenue. What’s rarely examined is why the Band was making those payments in the first place.

The 19 percent revenue sharing dates back to 1994, when the City and the Band negotiated the second of two casino agreements. Prior to that, the City had received 24.5 percent of total casino revenue under an agreement when the casino opened in 1986.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

James Cannon on the 4th of July

I’m a Fourth of July man from away back, and a great believer in fire crackers, picnics and brass bands to go with it. You can stop me any time and get me to listen to the glorious story of the greatness of our country and how and when it all got started. The continent we inhabit has been here longer than anyone knows—but as a nation, as an independent people, the darlings of destiny favored above all others, we date from the Declaration of Independence and the Fourth of July.

The representatives in Congress assembled 175 years ago were the great initiators. When they said: “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” they started something that opened up a new era of promise for all mankind. That’s what I am ready to celebrate any time the bands begin to play—the start and the promise. But nobody can sell me the Fourth of July speeches which represent the start as the finish and the promise as the fulfillment. I quit believing in them a long time ago. As soon as I grew old enough to look around and see what was going on in this country—all the inequality and injustice still remaining—the beneficiaries of privilege, claiming the heritage of our first revolution, struck me as imposters. I recognized the standard Fourth of July orators as phonies, as desecrators of a noble dream. They didn’t look like the Liberty Boys of ’76.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Open Letter From UWS Janitor Threatened With Outsourcing

My name is Glenn Khalar. I am the custodian in the JDH Library. I am also a veteran.

We on this campus have a program for Veterans to help them find new jobs and retrain them. As a veteran myself, hired on this campus partially because I'm a veteran, I am saddened to think that now we may be outsourced instead of looking out for our interests as we claim to do on this campus. I am not the only veteran on this campus that would be affected by outsourcing. This is a great concern of mine, as well as other concerns that I have.

I was raised here, brought up a family here, lived in the country my whole life and in this community. I was taught common sense, caring, looking out for others, being honest and team work. Now, I come to the UWS campus to find out that people of authority can stretch the truth. There is no real team work here and I see a lot of greed from people that have plenty to give. I don't see community support, looking out for the student's best interest as well as the University's interest.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Pipeline Expansion: Their Gain - Our Risk

Enbridge Energy is expanding the capacity of its pipeline through Wisconsin. You may ask, “What is the big deal?” Pipelines run over the state and most of the country.

There are a number of reasons to be concerned. Many good reasons are discussed by the Sierra Club, 350.Org, and the National Resources Defense Council (links listed below in additional reading). These include concerns over accidents, spills, higher risks associated with tar sands oil, lack of regulations, the poor safety record of Enbridge, and the threats to water resources in the state.

The expansion will increase private profit while passing the risk on to the public. Why are they expanding the capacity of existing pipelines? Obviously to increase production and make more money. Who will benefit? Outside of a few construction jobs, not the citizens of Wisconsin. The pumping stations are automated and remotely controlled, resulting in no local jobs. The oil is being shipped across the state not into the state so there will be no increase in refinery jobs. But Wisconsin will be left with the long term effects of the any accidents or spills.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Open Letter: Free Leonard Peltier!

In 1973 I participated in the Wounded Knee occupation for seven weeks. There I learned first hand of the reign of terror being perpetrated against traditional Lakota people who were demanding a modicum of civil rights and protesting both outrageous police brutality and violations of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. From 1973 to 1976 over 66 traditionalists and American Indian Movement supporters were murdered and over 300 severely beaten on the Pine Ridge Reservation, which is also the poorest county in the United States

After attending the October, 1973 funeral of Lakota civil rights leader Pedro Bissonette, I was arrested for walking Pine Ridge streets after dark. I was held overnight. All my cash was taken as a fine and I was left on an isolated road on the reservation border in freezing wind and rain, in the middle of a war zone to hitchhike 500 miles home. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Challenging Jim Crow Schools: Then & Now

Throughout the 20th century, the millions of African American families that migrated from the countryside to Southern and Northern cities had high expectations for urban life. Above all, they expected that their children would be able to get a better education.

But wherever Black people moved--to the Northern cities, to the West, or even to the Southern centers of industry--they were crowded into ghettoes and forced to send their children to segregated schools.

We're often taught that segregation in the South was a matter of law, whereas in the North, it was merely custom. But Black people who migrated to the North encountered a web of racial restrictions on their housing and school options--more often than not, backed up by government agencies and the force of law.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Wisconsin's Same-Sex Marriage Ban Struck Down

A federal judge has struck down Wisconsin's same-sex marriage ban, although there was confusion over when couples could begin getting married.

"Quite simply, this case is about liberty and equality, the two cornerstones of the rights protected by the United States Constitution," U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb wrote in her Friday ruling.

In her order, Crabb gave the plaintiffs until June 16 to submit a proposed injunction describing "in reasonable detail ... the act or acts restrained or required" and gave the state a week after that to reply.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Solidarity Needed for City Workers in Superior

As many of you may have heard, the City administration is planning to hire a consulting firm to perform a "wage study" on its workforce (aside from police and fire). The Mayor and Cammi say that they want City wages to be competitive in the market, to retain and lure quality employees, but historically, these studies result in higher wages for "management" positions, and wage freezes and "red-circles" for many of the non-management positions.

The proposal to hire "Carlson Dettmann" to conduct this study will go to the City Council. This proposal was not even put before the Human Resources Committee, as most any proposal regarding employees, benefits, or wages normally would. I ask you to please show up for the City Council meeting on Tuesday June 3 at 6:30pm. We need to show strength in numbers, so please pass this along to your co-workers and like minded friends.  This isn't a "union/non-union" issue - this should be of great concern to all City employees, and taxpayers - as this consultant will cost the City about $30,000, PLUS expenses!!!

Also, please read the story below - it is Steven's Point entering a legal battle with this very company:

Friday, May 30, 2014

Postmaster General Hides Winning Streak

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe claimed in a May 9 press release that the Postal Service had its “third straight quarter of revenue increase.” Actually, the Postal Service has been reporting revenue increases for five straight quarters.

Why is Donahoe minimizing the winning streak? Perhaps someone in Postal HQ’s statistics department was snoozing that day. But there is a more disturbing explanation.

Over the last few years, faced with falling revenue, postal management has closed post offices, slashed rural office hours, sold historic buildings, cut jobs, and consolidated processing plants.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Vets for Peace Banned From Memorial Day Parade

For years Veterans for Peace has been participating in parades throughout the region with their thought provoking float.  As veterans, their anti-war message is particularly powerful.  They've had to fight to be allowed to participate in a number of parades, especially when they first began entering their float. 

For years Vets for Peace have been participating in the annual Memorial Day parade in West Duluth.  This year, however, they were told that they are now banned.  The Memorial Day parade organizers claim that last year the Vets for Peace refused to register their float, and that they budded in line in the parade.  This is something that the Vets for Peace categorically deny.

In talking to the Duluth News Tribune, the organizers of the parade stated that they object to what they call Veterans for Peace's political message, and that they have voted to ban Vets for Peace "forever" from participating in the parade.  They have even notified the police to make sure they don't try and participate.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fast Food Workers Strike for $15/hr.

Fast food workers went on strike against McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King and other restaurants in 158 American cities Thursday, according to organizers.

Supporters held solidarity actions in some 93 cities spread across 36 countries, according to The organization did not report any strikes taking place in Minnesota, but a number occurred in Wisconsin and a solidarity rally was held in Minneapolis.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Superior Police Dept. Prepares for War?

The Superior Police Department has just acquired an MRAP armored personnel carrier. MRAP stands for Mine Resistant Ambush Projected. With a armored, v shaped hull, they're designed to be able to not only withstand small arms fire, but also mines and other improvised explosive devices. The concept and design was pioneered by the white supremacist regimes of Rhodesia and South Africa in the 1970s and 80s for use against protesters and guerilla freedom fighters. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Winning the Ballot Initiatives

A hundred years ago, when government at all levels was captured by corporations and legislation only served their interests (sound familiar?), citizens despaired of representative government and fought for and won a form of direct democracy called “initiative and referendum.”

Under these laws they could circulate petitions to call elections to pass good laws, repeal bad laws, or amend state constitutions.

They used that power to abolish poll taxes, fund higher education, and curb the power of the railroads. Today about half the states and many counties and cities have some type of direct democracy initiative process.