July 24, 2014 – Whether or not you think that’s alright depends on your perspective. According to Patrick Creighton, those numbers are pretty good – so many oil and natural gas wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania in the past seven years that 209 problem wells is a mere 1 percent of the total. But Creighton happens to be the spokesperson for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a trade group composed of natural gas drillers. So there’s that.
According to Steve Hvozdovich, 209 is a lot. “You are talking about somebody’s drinking water supply.” But then Hvozdovich works for the environmental group Clean Water Action. He would like clean drinking water.
However you feel about the 209 “instances,” that number wasn’t an easy one get. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is legally required to get to the bottom of drilling-related water complaints, report its findings to the owner of the affected property, and issue orders to clean up or fix the damage — all within 45 days of the first complaint.
July 14, 2014 – The Mahoning Valley ShareFest in Youngstown, Ohio brought together over 60 people for an afternoon of sharing skills, knowledge, passions, books, clothing and hobbies. Hosted by lead organizer and Timebank Mahoning Watershed board member Tony Budak, as well as numerous volunteers, the event featured dozens of local organizations aligned with the mission to showcase local collaborative giving and receiving.
Among the goals of the ShareFest, which was supported by a grant from Shareable as part of our #SharingSpring initiative, was to change the local community’s conversation leading to a change of culture along the following indicators:
Passive engagement to active engagement
Staff and administration led to citizen led
Beneficiary of service to co-producer of service
Client or volunteer to member
Individualism to mutualism
Participants of the ShareFest shared skills, passions, hobbies and more.
Miliband said the incursion into Gaza is likely to help Hamas’ recruiting efforts, and undermines Israel in the eyes of the international community. “I don’t think it will help win Israel friends,” he said. “I don’t think this will make the situation better. I fear it will make it worse.”
Over the weekend, Miliband criticized the loss of innocent lives resulting from the Israeli invasion. “As a party we oppose the further escalation of violence we have seen with Israel’s invasion of Gaza,” he said. “I defend Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks. But I cannot explain, justify or defend the horrifying deaths of hundreds of Palestinians, including children and innocent civilians.”
Miliband said the current violence highlights the dangers inherent in a broken peace process.
He said the violence was partially the result of the collapse of peace talks. “What this horrendous, terrible last few weeks has shown is the vacuum of not having a process is incredibly dangerous,” he said. “That vacuum means any restraint breaks down. And so you’ve got to restart a [peace] process.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently told Israeli reporters that there “cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan,” which observers took to mean he rejected the idea of a sovereign Palestinian state, and therefore the two-state solution.
Asked about the remarks, Miliband said it is useful to highlight Netanyahu’s past public support of a two-state solution, referencing a landmark speech he delivered in 2009. . “I read his public statements about the two-state solution as important. He said he’s in favor of a two-state solution,” Miliband said. I genuinely believe there is not another possibility.”
The continuing growth of Israeli settlements, he said, threatens that process. “I am concerned that the more settlements there are the more the growth of settlements can become a problem in relation to” the peace process, he said.
A senior Israeli official, who asked to speak on background, said that Netanyahu’s comments had been over-interpreted and needed to be understood in the context of the current conflict, and that he may soften his position after the operation ends. But he stood by Netanyahu’s assertion that Israel would only agree to a Palestinian state with significant security restrictions, referencing the long troop presences in South Korea, Japan and Germany.
This article has been updated to include Miliband’s reaction to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent comments on a two-state solution.
DETROIT – Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison plans to unveil legislation that would make unionization into a legally protected civil right, the congressman said on Saturday.
The bill, which he plans to formally introduce on July 30, would make it easier for workers to take legal action against companies that violate their right to organize.
It is already illegal to fire workers in retaliation for union activities, but enforcing workers’ right to organize can be a tricky process under current law. Currently, wrongfully terminated employees must file an unfair labor practice claim with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which will then determine whether to represent the worker in a legal fight against the employer.
But workers are not able to directly sue their employers for anti-union retaliation, and the process of bringing forward a successful unfair labor practice claim can take years.
Ellison’s legislation would maintain the unfair labor practice system, but also allow workers to individually sue their employers over allegations of illegal retaliation.
“If it’s a civil rights action, it’s vindicating your personal right, first of all to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression,” Ellison told msnbc Saturday at the Netroots Nation conference here. “And it’s your individual right to say what you want. Whether or not there’s ever even a vote, you shouldn’t be fired for expressing an intent to support union activity.”
Ellison said he got the idea for the bill from a book called Why Labor Organizing Should Be A Civil Right,written by Century Foundation fellows Richard Kahlenberg and Moshe Marvit. Shortly before the book’s release in early 2012, the two authors presented a synopsis of its core argument in an op-ed for TheNew York Times.
“Our proposal would make disciplining or firing an employee ‘on the basis of seeking union membership’ illegal just as it now is on the basis of race, color, sex, religion and national origin,” they wrote in the op-ed.“It would expand the fundamental right of association encapsulated in the First Amendment and apply it to the private workplace just as the rights of equality articulated in the 14th Amendment have been so applied.”
The full details of Ellison’s bill remain to be seen, but the proposal set forward by Kahlenberg and Marvit would “provide that after 180 days, a plaintiff can move his or her case from [the NLRB] to federal court.” That’s how the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission currently operates with regard to accusations of workplace discrimination.
Kahlenberg told msnbc that he was “delighted” by Ellison’s announcement.
“I think it’s a terrific development and Congressman Ellison’s the right person to advance this idea,” Kahlenberg said. “He has a strong record on civil rights and a strong record on labor.”
Ellison had not spoken directly with either Kahlenberg or Marvit about the idea, but Kahlenberg said he had been in contact with Ellison’s staff. According to Ellison, a recent Supreme Court decision has made it more important than ever to strengthen collective bargaining rights.
“In the aftermath of Harris v. Quinn, there’s no doubt that organizing rights are under as much threat as ever,” he said. “And now even from the Supreme Court.”
Rallying in suppport of Palestinians in Gaza, protestors including Tavia LaFollette of Shadyside, left, and Susanne Slavick of Ross Township, right, cradling sheets wrapped to look like dead children. Bill Wade/Post-Gazette
Oakland protesters rally for Palestinians against Israeli attacks in Gaza
July 19, 2014 – Protesters cradling sheets wrapped to look like dead children rallied in Oakland on Friday to call on the United States to withdraw financial support for Israel over that country‘s military assault in the Gaza Strip.
The group of about 100 protesters waved signs and Palestinian flags, and chanted slogans such as, “Make a choice, Obama, human rights or apartheid!” in front of the University of Pittsburgh’s Hillman Library on Forbes Avenue as evening traffic rushed by, with some cars honking in support. Holding the sheet-wrapped figures — one of which included what looked like the dangling legs and shoes of a young girl — the group then marched along Forbes and Fifth avenues to draw attention to their cause.
“Residents of Gaza have been under siege for such a long time, they‘re barely living to begin with,” said 21-year-old Pitt senior Hadeed Salaameh, a native Palestinian who said she helped organize the protest. “We as humans, we have to speak out, it’s our responsibility, and as Americans have to speak out because our tax dollars are funding this.”
CHICAGO – AFSCME President Lee Saunders today announced that the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees nearly doubled the goal set in January 2014 when the union launched its “50,000 Stronger” organizing campaign.
“Today, we are 92,155 members stronger, with new members from EMTs to home care workers, and we will continue our fight for the middle class and the future of this country,” Saunders declared. Delegates to the union’s 41st International Convention who heard his opening day remarks yesterday jumped to their feet and roared their approval, applauding, stomping their feet and clapping for several minutes. “Our opponents want to deplete the labor movement of resources, steal our power and silence our voices,” he said.
The better-than-planned results of the 50,000 Stronger campaign, which was launched at an internal leadership summit in January, were particularly sweet for the union and its members, coming as they do on the heels of Harris v. Quinn, a Supreme Court decision that undermines AFSCME’s ability to represent home and child care workers.
Included in the 90,000-plus new members are more than 20,000 of those home care workers, who were the target of the lawsuit which was funded by the National Right to Work Committee.
“Just two weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court undermined the freedom of home care workers and child care workers. But if anybody thinks we are giving up because things got harder, they are wrong,” Saunders declared.
The union sees its successful organizing campaign as a clear indication that face-to-face organizing is the proper response to what has been an onslaught of attacks on public service workers.
Hearing: Compressor station proposed near farms in New Sewickley Twp:
July 23, 2014 – 6:30pm New Sewickley Township Municipal Building 233 Miller Road Rochester, PA 15074
Kretschmann Farm is an organic farm serving many of us in the greater Pittsburgh area. This isn’t just about Kretschmann Farm, this is about ALL of the farms and their ability to continue providing us with produce that is free of frack toxin.
The production of healthy food with the benefit of clean water and air is one of the values of the environment and the most treasured of resources.
THE ISSUE: 7/23/14 conditional use hearing on a Marcellus gas compressor station that would be built adjacent to Kretschmann’s farm – this meeting might be the one where the supervisors grant permission for the plant.
ATTEND: RESIDENTS OF NEW SEWICKLEY TOWNSHIP AND ALL INTERESTED PERSONS:
Hearing on proposed construction of the Pike Compressor Station Facility by Cardinal PA Midstream, LLC on an 11.2 acre gravel pad on Teets Road in New Sewickley Township.
The New Sewickley Township Board of Supervisors will continue the public hearing from Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. at the New Sewickley Township Municipal Building, 233 Miller Road, Rochester, PA 15074 to July 23, 2014 at 6:30 to obtain any additional public comment on the Conditional Use
LETTER FROM THE KRETSCHMANS July 15, 2014
Greetings from the Kretschmanns,
I wish I could talk about the what might shape up to be the best early potato crop in years, or how nice the tomatoes look, picture perfect fields of broccoli and cauliflower, or how excited we are to see the winter squash growing beautifully after being planted using our innovative new no-till system.
But unfortunately we are totally preoccupied with stopping a Marcellus gas compressor station from being sited on a property adjoining our farm in the rear. We are shell shocked and beside ourselves after the surprise phone call last Wednesday from a neighbor about a meeting of the township board of supervisors at which they were to decide the issue.
In eight hours we and several other neighbors came up with enough questions for the board to delay decision and continue the hearing on 7/23 at the township building. But we are told it will be an uphill battle. The small group of neighbors calling ourselves the Bulldogs for New Sewickley Health has alerted hundreds of residents, who also knew nothing about these plans.
We don’t like to bother our subscribers with issues outside our farmer to consumer relationship and deny many requests by outside groups to contact you. But this is about the future of your food supply–make no mistake.
It’s about the future of our farm. Thus, we respectfully ask, beg, that you write the board of supervisors voicing your concerns about the safety and integrity of your organic food supply. As citizens of Pennsylvania, we all have “a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and aesthetic values of the environment.” (Art.27Sec1PA Constitution) The state, and thus the township is the trustee of these common resources to preserve them for all of us.
Surely the production of healthy food with the benefit of clean water and air is one of the values of the environment and the most treasured of resources. We know you are busy-with-life. Please consider taking the time to send a letter to the supervisors insisting they fulfill their duty to protect the safety of your food supply. We are taking this very seriously and have engaged legal talent including the attorney who successfully confronted the free reign of the gas industry all the way to the PA Supreme Court. We need your help now, as the 7/23 conditional use hearing might be the one where the supervisors grant permission for the plant. If you’re a parent, also appeal on behalf of your children who grow nourished by this wholesome food. If you’re a doctor or health professional appeal on the basis of prudent concern for one’s health. Other professionals can lend a hand as appropriate. If you know anyone who could help out in the media, political, business, or legal arenas please let us know. We certainly are not asking for this kind of response based on the basis of NIMBY–not in my backyard. It’s simply that an extra-ordinary number of Pittsburgh area consumers are consuming food from our farm in a raw and unprocessed form. That’s a special case and you have a right to it’s quality.
We will be setting up a more automated a petition line, but you can send petitions to the Board of Supervisors c/o twp manager, New Sewickley Twp. Importantly, CC us in the e-mail, or simply send it to us and we’ll print and forward it. Please be respectful. Don served for many years on this board with the current Chairman. Please put “NST petition” in the subject line so we can make sure it is introduced into the official record. We thank our many subscribers who have supported us for decades by buying our organic produce and thus making us the thriving organic farm which we are.
This has allowed us to laugh at the lease agreements sought by the “land men”. We haven’t and won’t sign. We need your help at this time in this special way. Salient talking points are the potential danger to your organically raised food supply and the farm which produces it. We are confident the public good can prevail if we all step forward together. We will be putting together more information as we get a little ahead of this breaking wave.
Busy as bees, we are sincerely, Don, Becky, & the Farm Crew