Editor's note: The Bloomington Alternative videotaped CAFO fighter Rick Dove's "Crimes Against Nature" presentation at the Indiana CAFO Watch Conference and posted it in seven short segments on the Alternative Videos page. Links to each segment, with extended excerpts from them, are published below.
MUNCIE -- Watching Rick Dove's multimedia presentation "Crimes Against Nature" conjured up memories of Indiana's feisty old Republican Gordon Durnill, a former GOP state party chair who wrote the 1995 book The Making of a Conservative Environmentalist. In addition to calling for the jailing of corporate executives who knowingly poison the environment with harmful toxins, Durnil debunked the environmentalist caricatures that persist in the American media today. Almost without exception, he said, environmentalists are environmental victims.
ROCKPORT, IND. -- Rex Winchell would satisfy just about any conceivable interpretation of the Hoosier colloquialism tough old bird. The 84-year-old Rockport citizen speaks proudly of the decade he spent in the military and working with military outfits in North America and Europe. When relating a story about an unpleasant conversation he recently had with a local public official, he says he's glad it was on the telephone and not in person.
"I probably would have spent a little time in the pokey," he says, "because I would have made a change in his face or some other portion of his anatomy."
Winchell is similarly blunt when talking about those who sanction and operate the 17 coal-fired power plants in what he calls Indiana's "Polluted Triangle," from Terre Haute to Tell City to Evansville and back to Terre Haute.
"If I walked out here on the streets of Rockport, Ind., and blew away as many as 15 people," he says, "... I'd end up either having my hide fried or a term of life in prison. But, to have people poison slowly the entire population of an area." His voice trails off at the notion.
Editor's note: Bloomington Alternative contributor Linda Greene participated in last month's U.S. Social Forum in Detroit. What follows are some of her observations from the experience.
"This is what democracy looks like!" is a familiar chant at progressive marches and rallies. The second U.S. Social Forum (USSF), held in Detroit on June 22-26, put the chant into practice. Some 15,000 activists of all colors and kinds gathered for what the USSF Web site billed as a "U.S. movement-building process."
"It is not a conference but it is a space to come up with the peoples' solutions to the economic and ecological crisis," the Web site says. "The USSF is the next most important step in our struggle to build a powerful, multi-racial, multi-sectoral, inter-generational, diverse, inclusive, internationalist movement that transforms this country and changes history."
On Thursday, July 1, 10 grassroots environmentalists met with Anne Carey, Hoosier National Forest acting supervisor, at the Hoosier's office in Bedford to convey their vision for the future of the national forest.
The activists represented Heartwood, the Sierra Club, Concerned Citizens of Crawford County, Concerned Citizens of Scott County, the Indiana Forest Alliance and Citizens Action Coalition. State Senator Richard Young, D-Milltown, was among them.
The first item on the agenda was biomass incineration.
When Rick Dove began his crusade against concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in his home of North Carolina in the early 1990s, he was a pioneer in this particular field of citizen activism. When the Vietnam veteran and retired Judge Adjutant General first became alarmed about water quality in the Neuse River that flows past his home in New Bern, few outside the agriculture industry even knew what the term meant.
Among those who did know was Robert Kennedy Jr.'s Riverkeeper Alliance, which in 1993 licensed Dove as a "Riverkeeper" to protect the Neuse and other troubled North Carolina waters threatened and degraded by industrial mega-farm operations and other forces. Since then, his efforts have helped achieve a state-imposed moratorium on new CAFOs and manure-storage lagoons and landed him a starring role in a new book on the subject called Animal Factory: The Looming Threat of Industrial Pig, Dairy and Poultry Farms to Humans and the Environment by David Kirby.
On July 17, Dove will bring his story, which these days he calls "Crimes Against Nature," to the 2010 Indiana CAFO Watch Conference in Muncie, where he will be among the featured speakers.
"Peak oil" -- what is that? The concept has been discussed since 1949, when geologist M. King Hubbert theorized that the extraction of the black gold followed a simple bell curve, meaning that after passing the peak in the curve, extraction would decline. After peak, never again would we be able to extract, and use, as much oil as we had previously.
In 1956, Hubbert made a startling and controversial prediction: America's oil production would peak in or around 1970. Hubbert's peers were confounded, as it was inconceivable that the United States, the world's largest oil producer in the first half of the 20th century -- literally the "Saudi Arabia" of the West -- could possibly decline in production.
So Hubbert was ridiculed, that is, until soon after 1970, when it became obvious that U.S. production had indeed peaked that year. (Peaks in production, whether in individual oil fields or oil nations, or worldwide, are only recognizable in hindsight, by comparing production in subsequent years.)
No news is good news, as the saying goes, but when it comes to the legal case of Hugh Farrell and Gina "Tiga" Wertz, no news is ambiguous.
Farrell and Wertz engaged in peaceful protests against the I-69 highway, and the State of Indiana has charged them with felony racketeering and several misdemeanors.
Wertz is charged with intimidation, a class A demeanor, two counts; conversion (unauthorized use of someone else's property), a class A misdemeanor, two counts; and corrupt business influence (racketeering), a class C felony. Her bond was set at $10,000.
On Feb. 1 President Barack Obama asked Congress to approve a record $708 billion in defense spending for fiscal 2011. The budget calls for a 3.4 percent increase in the Pentagon's base budget to $549 billion, plus $159 billion to fund the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
But citizens aren't sitting by while the Pentagon's budget balloons. On March 20, just after the seventh anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, protestors will march on Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco.
On Friday evening, March 19, at least 55 Hoosiers and Kentucky residents will board a bus bound for Washington, D.C., for the second peace march since President Obama was elected. Participants will demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan and Iraq.
We live in an age of attacks on human and civil rights -- for instance, jailing people indefinitely without charging them with a crime and combating protestors violently, such as at the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh a few months ago. People who dissent or engage in left-wing activism are right to worry about being charged with a crime despite not doing anything the Constitution doesn't allow.
To prepare activists for visits by federal law-enforcement agents, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) has republished If an Agent Knocks, a 47-page booklet that it's distributing to the public free of charge. Originally published in 1989, the booklet was revised and updated this past September.
CCR describes its mission as follows. "The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration for Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization [and public interest law firm] committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change."
Fourteen people braved the cold Friday night to hold a candlelight vigil at the Monroe County Courthouse Square to demonstrate their concern about global climate change and the meeting about it now taking place in Copenhagen, where world government officials are meeting to craft a treaty that will ameliorate the worst effects of climate change.
The vigil was a follow-up to the worldwide demonstrations on Oct. 24 in support of a critical goal, reducing the world's CO2 emissions to 350 parts per million from the current 390 parts per million.
"We're asking the world's leaders to follow the science," said Michael Beczkiewicz.