Join the Climate Trial
by Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Terry Tempest Williams, and Dr. James Hansen
CommonDreams.org : February 8, 2010
[The following was co-written by Naomi Klein, author of the #1 international
bestseller The Shock Doctrine, Terry Tempest Williams, world renowned
wildlife author, Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org and author of The End Of
Nature, and Dr. James Hansen, author of Storms of my Grandchildren, and who
is regarded as the world's leading climatologist. All recognize the trial of
Tim DeChristopher to be a turning point in the climate movement. Included
are links to resources for travel to Utah].
The epic fight to ward off global warming and transform the energy system
that is at the core of our planet's economy takes many forms: huge global
days of action, giant international conferences like the one that just
failed in Copenhagen, small gestures in the homes of countless people.
But there are a few signal moments, and one comes next month, when the
federal government puts Tim DeChristopher on trial in Salt Lake City.
Tim--"Bidder 70"--pulled off one of the most creative protests against our
runaway energy policy in years: he bid for the oil and gas leases on several
parcels of federal land even though he had no money to pay for them, thus
upending the auction. The government calls that "violating the Federal
Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Reform Act" and thinks he should spend ten years
in jail for the crime; we call it a noble act, a profound gesture made on
behalf of all of us and of the future.
Tim's action drew national attention to the fact that the Bush
Administration spent its dying days in office handing out a last round of
favors to the oil and gas industry. After investigating irregularities in
the auction, the Obama Administration took many of the leases off the table,
with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar criticizing the process as "a headlong
rush." And yet that same Administration is choosing to prosecute the young
man who blew the whistle on this corrupt process.
We cannot let this stand. When Tim disrupted the auction, he did so in the
fine tradition of non-violent civil disobedience that changed so many unjust
laws in this country's past. Tim's upcoming trial is an occasion to raise
the alarm once more about the peril our planet faces. The situation is still
fluid--the trial date has just been set, and local supporters are making
plans for how to mark the three-day proceedings. But they are asking people
around the country to flood into Salt Lake City in mid-March. If you come,
there will be ample opportunity for both legal protest and civil
disobedience. For example:
a.. Outside the courthouse, there will be a mock trial, with experts like
NASA's Jim Hansen providing the facts that should be heard inside the
chambers. We don't want Tim on trial--we want global warming on the stand.
b.. Demonstrators will be using the time-honored tactics of civil
disobedience to make their voices heard outside the courthouse in an effort
to prevent "business as usual"--it's business as usual that's wrecking the
c.. There will be evening concerts and gatherings, including a
"mini-summit" to share ideas on how the climate movement should proceed in
the years ahead. This is a people's movement that draws power from around
the globe; for a few days its headquarters will be Salt Lake City.
You can get the most up-to-date news at climatetrial.com, including
schedules for non-violence training, and information about legal
representation. If you're coming, bring not only your passion but also your
creativity--we need lots of art and music to help make the point that we
won't sit idly by while the government tries to scare the environmental
movement into meek cooperation. This kind of trial is nothing but
intimidation--and the best answers to intimidation are joy and resolve.
That's what we'll need in Utah.
We know it's short notice. Some of us won't be able to make it to Utah
because we have other commitments or are limiting travel, and if you're in
the same situation, climatetrial.com will also have details of solidarity
actions in other parts of the country. If you can contribute money to help
make the week's events possible, click here. But more than your money we
need your body, your brains, and your heart. In a landscape of little water,
where redrock canyons rise upward like praying hands, we can offer our
solidarity to the wild: wild lands and wild hearts. Tim DeChristopher
deserves and needs our physical and spiritual support in the name of a just
and vibrant community.
Thank you for standing with us,
Terry Tempest Williams
Dr. James Hansen
Wars Sending US into Ruin
By Eric Margolis
February 08, 2010 "Toronto Sun" Feb. 07, 2010 - U.S. President Barack
Obama calls the $3.8-trillion US budget he just sent to Congress a major
step in restoring America's economic health.
In fact, it's another potent fix given to a sick patient deeply
addicted to the dangerous drug - debt.
More empires have fallen because of reckless finances than invasion.
The latest example was the Soviet Union, which spent itself into ruin by
Washington's deficit (the difference between spending and income from
taxes) will reach a vertiginous $1.6 trillion US this year. The huge sum
will be borrowed, mostly from China and Japan, to which the U.S. already
owes $1.5 trillion. Debt service will cost $250 billion.
To spend $1 trillion, one would have had to start spending $1 million
daily soon after Rome was founded and continue for 2,738 years until today.
Obama's total military budget is nearly $1 trillion. This includes
Pentagon spending of $880 billion. Add secret black programs (about $70
billion); military aid to foreign nations like Egypt, Israel and Pakistan;
225,000 military "contractors" (mercenaries and workers); and veterans'
costs. Add $75 billion (nearly four times Canada's total defence budget) for
16 intelligence agencies with 200,000 employees.
The Afghanistan and Iraq wars ($1 trillion so far), will cost $200-250
billion more this year, including hidden and indirect expenses. Obama's
Afghan "surge" of 30,000 new troops will cost an additional $33 billion -
more than Germany's total defence budget.
No wonder U.S. defence stocks rose after Peace Laureate Obama's
Military and intelligence spending relentlessly increase as
unemployment heads over 10% and the economy bleeds red ink. America has
become the Sick Man of the Western Hemisphere, an economic cripple like the
defunct Ottoman Empire.
The Pentagon now accounts for half of total world military spending.
Add America's rich NATO allies and Japan, and the figure reaches 75%.
China and Russia combined spend only a paltry 10% of what the U.S.
spends on defence.
There are 750 U.S. military bases in 50 nations and 255,000 service
members stationed abroad, 116,000 in Europe, nearly 100,000 in Japan and
Military spending gobbles up 19% of federal spending and at least 44%
of tax revenues. During the Bush administration, the Iraq and Afghanistan
wars - funded by borrowing - cost each American family more than $25,000.
Like Bush, Obama is paying for America's wars through supplemental
authorizations - putting them on the nation's already maxed-out credit
card. Future generations will be stuck with the bill.
This presidential and congressional jiggery-pokery is the height of
America's wars ought to be paid for through taxes, not bookkeeping
If U.S. taxpayers actually had to pay for the Afghan and Iraq wars,
these conflicts would end in short order.
America needs a fair, honest war tax.
The U.S. clearly has reached the point of imperial overreach. Military
spending and debt-servicing are cannibalizing the U.S. economy, the real
basis of its world power. Besides the late U.S.S.R., the U.S. also
increasingly resembles the dying British Empire in 1945, crushed by immense
debts incurred to wage the Second World War, unable to continue financing or
defending the imperium, yet still imbued with imperial pretensions.
It is increasingly clear the president is not in control of America's
runaway military juggernaut. Sixty years ago, the great President Dwight
Eisenhower, whose portrait I keep by my desk, warned Americans to beware of
the military-industrial complex. Six decades later, partisans of permanent
war and world domination have joined Wall Street's money lenders to put
America into thrall.
Increasing numbers of Americans are rightly outraged and fearful of
runaway deficits. Most do not understand their political leaders are also
spending their nation into ruin through unnecessary foreign wars and a
vainglorious attempt to control much of the globe - what neocons call "full
If Obama really were serious about restoring America's economic
health, he would demand military spending be slashed, quickly end the Iraq
and Afghan wars and break up the nation's giant Frankenbanks.
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