Planet Watch
offshore

US judge invalidates massive offshore oil sale

A federal judge in Washington DC invalidated an oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, finding that the Biden administration failed to properly account for the auction’s environmental impact. In 2017, the Outer Continental Shelf Oil & Gas Leasing Program issued a five-year plan which proposed 10 region-wide lease sales. One of those was Lease Sale 257, for 80.8 million acres of Gulf waters, the largest offshore lease sale in United States history. President Biden had initially blocked the sale by executive order, but this was overturned by the courts in a case brought by Louisiana and other states. (Photo: Pixabay)

North America
Fort Bliss

SCOTUS hears cases on indefinite migrant detention

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments for two immigration cases that address the right of detained non-citizens to have a bond hearing after six months of detention. Both cases were brought by asylum-seekers who had been detained for extended periods without bond hearings following the issuance of a removal order. The cases re-examine the 2001 Zadvydas v. Davis, in which the Supreme Court ruled that pre-removal detention may not be extended beyond six months unless there is a realistic chance that the non-citizen could be removed. The US Constitution forbids imprisonment without due process of law and guarantees the right of habeas corpus. (Photo via Border Report)

North America
border

Biden administration to restart ‘Remain in Mexico’

The US Department of Homeland Security announced that it will begin re-implementing the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a Trump-era policy forcing asylum-seekers to “Remain in Mexico” for the duration of their immigration proceedings. The announcement follows a Supreme Court order requiring re-implementation of the MPP over the objections of the Biden administration. The policy may, however, violate international law. The 1951 UN Convention & Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees requires states to grant refugees the right to seek asylum, to have free access to courts, and to be afforded movement within the country. It also prohibits expulsion (“refoulement”) to a country where their lives or freedom may be threatened. (Photo: WikiImages via Jurist)

North America
standwithmashpee

Podcast: Thanksgiving and Atonement

In Episode 98 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg discusses the book Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience by Melanie Kirkpatrick. A work of Thanksgiving boosterism, it nonetheless recognizes the dissidents who reject the holiday as a celebration and sanitization of genocide, and even call for replacing it with a day of atonement. The idealized portrayal the first Thanksgiving in 1621 belies the bloody realities of the Pequot War and King Philip’s War that shortly followed. Perversely, the Wampanoag indigenous people, who shared in that first Thanksgiving and were later defeated in King Philip’s War, were the target of a new attempt at “termination” by the Trump administration, which sought to disestablish their reservation at Mashpee, on Cape Cod just 30 miles south of Plymouth Rock. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Indianz.com)

North America
cannabis

Podcast: the dialectics of cannabis liberation II

In Episode 94 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg presents a special cannabis harvest season interview with Karla Avila in Northern California’s Emerald Triangle. A licensed producer of artisanal outdoor cannabis for the legal market through her homestead-based company Flowerdaze Farm, Avila is an advocate for small-scale “legacy” growers through her work with the Trinity County Agriculture Alliance. She is also a founding member of the statewide Origins Council, which is seeking to establish official “appellations” for cannabis, certifying a strain’s regional origin. Avila discusses the challenges now facing small legacy growers who are struggling to keep alive heirloom genetics and ecologically sound cultivation methods in a legal market increasingly dominated large-scale enterprises on an agribusiness model. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

North America
thacker-pass

Paiute and Shoshone oppose Nevada lithium mine

Local indigenous peoples and their environmentalist supporters have rallied outside the federal courthouse in Reno, Nev., as they await a decision on their request for an injunction to stop the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine Project, set to be developed on public lands within the ancestral territory of the Paiute and Shoshone. Opponents have also established a protest camp near the mine site. If the injunction is denied, Lithium Nevada, a subsidiary of Canada-based Lithium Americas, will be able to move ahead with an archaeological survey in preparation for breaking ground on the mine. (Photo: Protect Thacker Pass)

Planet Watch
greenland

Greenland suspends oil exploration, citing climate crisis

The government of Greenland announced that it will suspend all oil exploration, saying the territory “wants to take co-responsibility for combating the global climate crisis… The future does not lie in oil. The future belongs to renewable energy, and in that respect we have much more to gain.” The US Geological Survey estimates there could be 17.5 billion undiscovered barrels below the territory’s lands and waters. Many had hoped potential reserves could allow Greenland to acheive independence, compensating for the annual subsidy of 3.4 billion kroner ($540 million) the territory receives from Denmark. (Photo: Pixabay)

Planet Watch

Podcast: climate change and the global struggle

In Episode 81 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the fast-mounting manifestations of devastating climate destabilization—from Oregon to Siberia, from Germany to Henan. In Angola, traditional pastoralists are joining the ranks of “climate refugees” as their communal lands are stricken by drought. In Iran’s restive and rapidly aridifying Ahwazi region, protests over access to water have turned deadly. These grim developments offer a foreboding of North America’s imminent future. Yet media commentators continue to equivocate, asking whether these events are “linked to” or “caused by” climate change—rather than recognizing that they are climate change. And the opportunity for a crash conversion from fossil fuels that was posed by last year’s pandemic-induced economic paralysis, when already depressed oil prices actually went negative, is now being squandered. Oil prices are again rising, with the return to pre-pandemic dystopian “normality.” Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo of Ahwazi protesters in Iran: Ahwazna)

Planet Watch
BLM

UN: end systemic racism in law enforcement

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged states to dismantle systematic racism against African and African-descendent peoples, in a report focusing on law enforcement around the world. The report features an analysis of 190 deaths at the hands of law enforcement, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the United States, as well as cases in the United Kingdom, France, Brazil and Colombia. “The status quo is untenable,” Bachelet said. “Systemic racism needs a systemic response… We need a transformative approach that tackles the interconnected areas that drive racism, and lead to repeated, wholly avoidable, tragedies like the death of George Floyd.” (Photo: The Village Sun)

North America
PennEast Pipeline

SCOTUS: pipeline companies may take state property

The US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in PennEast Pipeline Co. v. New Jersey that the Natural Gas Act grants private companies authority to take state-owned property to build interstate pipelines. PennEast Pipeline obtained a certificate from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build a 116-mile gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to New Jersey and sought to exercise its federal eminent domain authority by taking public land in New Jersey. The state of New Jersey moved to dismiss the company’s request on sovereign immunity grounds. A district court ruled in favor of PennEast Pipeline, but the Third Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the order. In an opinion delivered by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court reinstated the district court order in favor of PennEast Pipeline. (Photo via WHYY)

Planet Watch
First Nations

Canada law recognizing UNDRIP gets royal assent

A bill by the Canadian Parliament recognizing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and establishing a framework for its implementation received Royal Assent. The legislation requires the government of Canada to take measures for bringing the country’s laws into alignment with the UNDRIP as well as preparing an action plan for achieving its objectives. But some advocates for Indigenous peoples’ rights are concerned that the new law may “Canadianize” the UNDRIP, since it is to be construed as upholding the rights of First Nations under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982—which has been subject to long-drawn legal battles over its interpretation. (Photo of anti-pipeline protest in British Columbia: Rogue Collective via Flickr)

Planet Watch
colonial pipeline

Podcast: lessons of the Colonial Pipeline disaster

In Episode 75 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg examines distorted reportage on the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline by Russian hackers. The disaster illustrates the urgent need for a crash conversion from fossil fuels—but also from digital technology. Signs of hope are seen in the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline, the recent indigenous-led protests against the Line 3 Pipeline in Minnesota, and the gas bill strike launched by Brooklyn residents to oppose the North Brooklyn Pipeline that would cut through their neighborhoods. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Map: US Energy Information Administration)