Earth Day Protest at DEP Office April 22nd

Citizens celebrate Earth Day by protesting DEP

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013 10:45 pm

By Rachel Morgan |

PITTSBURGH — Most people celebrate Earth Day by planting trees. But a local coalition of environmentalists plans to celebrate the Earth by protesting actions of the state agency intended to protect it.

The coalition, made up of 60 organizations and individual citizens, is staging a statewide Earth Day protest Monday at six regional Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection offices. The groups are calling for the DEP to return to its mission, “to protect Pennsylvania’s air, land and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment.”

The group also has five demands for the regulatory agency, which has come under fire in recent months over its water-testing practices. It stems from a Public Accountability Initiative report that highlighted extensive ties between DEP leadership and the oil and gas industry, and its granting of a permit to Chesapeake Energy for hydraulic fracturing just 1 mile from the Beaver Valley Power Station, among others.

The Earth Day Protest Against Fracking has the following five demands:

• Appoint an environmental expert without industry ties as DEP Secretary to ensure DEP’s mission is fulfilled

• Place a moratorium on permits for gas wells, compressor stations, pipelines, water withdrawals, coal mines, and other infrastructure related to fossil fuel extraction

• Allow no more toxic secrets and full disclosure of water tests and other studies by DEP

• Provide justice for those harmed by the oil and gas industry

• Reopen the DEP Office of Energy and Technology Deployment to develop solar, wind and other renewable energy technologies

The local demonstration will take place at 2p.m. Monday at the DEP Southwest Regional Office, 400 Waterfront Drive, Homestead.

US Government Interfering in Venezuela

President Nicolas Maduro
President Nicolas Maduro

U.S. Must Recognize Venezuela’s Elections

Posted: 04/18/2013 6:03 pm

by Dan Kovalik

The United States is refusing to recognize the results of the Venezuelan elections, insisting that Venezuela conduct a re-count of 100 percent of the votes in light of the narrow margin of victory for Nicolas Maduro. The facts surrounding the voting process and election outcome in Venezuela, the U.S.’s own experiences with close presidential elections, and the U.S.’s recent recognition of coup governments in Latin America demonstrate that the U.S.’s position in regard to Venezuela has nothing to do with the U.S.’s alleged concerns for democracy, but rather, its complete disdain for it.

I just returned from Venezuela where I was one of over 170 international election observers from around the world, including India, Guyana, Suriname, Colombia, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Scotland, England, the United States, Guatemala, Argentina, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Brazil, Chile, Greece, France, Panama and Mexico. These observers included two former presidents (of Guatemala and the Dominican Republic), judges, lawyers and numerous high ranking officials of national electoral councils. What we found was an election system which was transparent, inherently reliable, well-run and thoroughly audited.

Indeed, as to the auditing, what has been barely mentioned by the mainstream press is the fact that around 54 percent of all votes are, and indeed have already been, audited to ensure that the electronic votes match up with the paper receipts which serve as back-up for these electronic votes. And, this auditing is done in the presence of witnesses from both the governing and opposition parties right in the local polling places themselves. I witnessed just such an audit at the end of election day on Sunday. And, as is the usual case, the paper results matched up perfectly with the electronic ones. As the former Guatemalan President, Alvaro Colom, who served as an observer, opined, the vote in Venezuela is “secure” and easily verifiable.

In short, the observers’ experience this past week aligns with former U.S. president Jimmy Carter’s observation last year that Venezuela’s electoral system is indeed the “the best in the world.”

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