American corporations today are entitled to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, the same as American citizens. How exactly did corporations come to be “people” bestowed with the most fundamental constitutional rights? The answer can be found in a grotesque series of lawsuits over 130 years ago, involving a lawyer who lied to the Supreme Court, an ethically challenged justice, and one of the most powerful corporations of the day.
Today that law is known as the law governing “The Civil Rights of Corporations.”
But if corporations are people, it’s time we understood that all persons are accountable—no exceptions. PGE is guilty of manslaughter with 7 dead in the 2010 San Bruno explosion and 81 from the Camp Fire—so far.
Now picture it for the moment. What if the fires that obliterated Paradise had had a nuclear component, say, on the magnitude of Fukushima, where a nuclear installation and all its contaminants had burned to the ground. Far greater a swath of landscape would have to be condemned— most of Northern California in fact. And the folks camping out in the Walmart campground would be lots more unhappy. As it stands, although they would much have preferred to have a roof over their heads and a refrigerator of rotten food, now they have no roof at all, and no rotten food.
But, thank heavens, they skirted the ultimate tragedy: a nuclear plant was not on fire.
Or wasn’t it? With 2 dead, the Woolsey Fire burned up at least half of the mountaintop where the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, now owned by Boeing Corporation, with a set of yet-to-be decommissioned and cleaned up experimental reactors without containment vessels are located. It burned up some of the most lethal radioactive elements known to humankind in the vegetation that had taken them up, and the soils into which they had leached, lofted them into the air, and spread them over Southern California.
Santa Susana, 35 miles from Los Angeles, is a site heavily contaminated with radioactivity and toxic chemicals originally developed in the 40s in a low density population area, which over time has become surrounded people, half a million of them. And unremarkably, some wildly dramatic and horrifying cancer clusters have been documented within a 2-mile radius, with cases of rare childhood leukemias and brain cancers in particular. (For more details on this subject, hear archived KPFA.org broadcast with Dan Hirsch on 11/21/18 “Talkies” program.)
Right now, as Gov. jerry Brown is termed out, and Gavin Newsome takes his place, Boeing and the government agencies that own Santa Susana Field Laboratory are racing to get the EIR certified, and tie Newsome’s hands so that clean up of the site, promised by 2017 but never done, can be reduced by 98% and Boeing can wash its hands by donating the land to the State as a wildlife refuge (for picnicking-but only on Sundays!)
What you can do: You can contact Newsom at https://gavinnewsom.com/get_involved and leave a message calling on him to (1) stop the Dept. of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) from taking any action on the Santa Susana Field Laboratory until he takes office, such as certifying the EIR or other steps that would restrict the cleanup, (2) committing to vigorously carrying out the cleanup agreements requiring cleanup of SSFL to background, and (3) appointing a strong reformer to run DTSC and perform a top-to-bottom fix of that dysfunctional agency.
And sign the petition demanding no bailout for PGE at https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/no-pge-bailout?fbclid=IwAR0HW85QoV6snVwgVo97WLzEhddEds6SVy5wT-vCTI3eS7eIVBgljj-AtCg
And instead of another criminal bailout of PGE, you can read about a citizen’s take over at https://popularresistance.org/pge-dont-break-it-up-take-it-over/
And about converting our fossil-fuel culture into something more earth sustaining at https://popularresistance.org/confronting-the-carbon-capitalists/
And about the yet to happen Santa Susana Field Lab cleanup at https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/LA-Nuclear-Secret-Santa-Susan-Field-Lab-450098253.html
And the 55–page PSR report about the corporate capture of Santa Susana regulating agencies at https://www.consumerwatchdog.org/report/inside-job-how-boeing-fixers-captured-regulators-and-derailed-nuclear-and-chemical-cleanup
And meantime, besides stripping Citizens United from U.S. law, how about de-Peopling Corporations? both subjects the new progressive wing of the Democratic Party needs to take up as part of its platform. And Nancy Pelosi, with her pretensions as putative Speaker, needs to get on board before she becomes fodder for the La Brea tar pits, along with the other dinosaurs.
(I have purposely not hyperlinked but left the links in as they stand in this edition because, should you wish to forward this newsletter, the links will still be available.)
U.S. Green Party urges International Criminal Court to prosecute Israel for crimes against Palestinians.
Calling for ‘corridor of life and culture,” indigenous Amazon groups propose creation of largest protested area on Earth.
In Montreal 50,000 people march demanding more climate action.
At Portuguese left block convention, Portugal gears up for year of crucial fights to up wages, up welfare payments and stop privatization, and halve unemployment to 6.3%.
Claiming good planets are hard to find, Extinction Rebellion shuts down London bridges Blackfriars, Waterloo, Westminster, Lambeth and Southwark to protest global lack of climate action.
Parents deliver ashes of deceased diabetic children to Sanofi, the price-gouging pharmaceutical corporation.
Chiliean workers observe national strike demanding labor rights.
Thousands march in Rome protesting against climate of hatred.
Activists disrupt Jamie Dimon speech to hand deliver IPCC report sending message that Chase must stop banking on fossil fuels.
The media fails to cover six recent U.S. antiwar demonstrations.: George Bush receiving the Philadelphia Liberty Medal; Women’s March on the Pentagon; Hudson Institute disrupted by Medea Benjamin; demonstration against war criminal Kissinger; demonstration against Pompeo and Bolton at the United Against a Nuclear Iran Summit; and Cindy Sheehan’s hunger strike against the Saudi destruction of Yemen.
Students at Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland demand their universities end contracts with ICE.
Veterans for peace urges U.S. border troops to follow their conscience and disobey orders.
Sanders urges Democrats in new congress to embrace detailed progressive agenda from which Peace is still absent.
Saying ’we are not robots’, Amazon workers across Europe walk out on black Friday over low wages and ‘inhuman conditions.’
Stacey Abrams will fight as a private citizen to hold Brian Kemp accountable for undermining voting rights in Georgia.
First paraeducator-led strike of the teacher uprising takes off in Pacific Northwest.
Led by women of color, network initiative connected by hashtag #BlackFridays results in symbolic walkouts across country.
After four weeks of non-stop police sweeps of homeless people trying to survive winter, Denver citizens convene in outcry demanding such displacement end.
Organizers with the FANG Collective and other community members demonstrate outside home of Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson over county’s 287g agreement with ICE.
Royal family of Kardashains calls for clean-up of Santa Susana on Facebook.
And Noam Chomsky announces indigenous people are our only hope for planetary survival.
Sea change in criminal justice around country includes Florida restoration of voting rights to ex-felons, Louisiana repeal of racist jury law, Colorado ending prison slavery without pay, Washington holding cops accountable for unreasonable use of force, and Michigan legalizing marijuana.
In response to a lawsuit filed by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, federal labor officials to release diversity numbers, formerly blocked, for government contractors.
Nation’s largest environmental group says catastrophic wildfires show need for stronger, faster action on climate change.
Democratic AGs successfully sue DeVos in federal court to stop her from rolling back protections for students from abusive, for-profit colleges.
Senators sue to block Whitaker from serving as AG, accusing #45 of subverting the Constitution to protect himself.
GITMO prisoner Guled Hasssan Duran has his case heard before Periodic Review Board.
As the result of activist pressure, AIRbnb announces it will remove all vacation rentals on its site located in Israeli settlements in occupied West Bank.
ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center to challenge #45’s asylum ban in court.
The Standing Rock Tribe renews lawsuit against the U.S. Corps of Engineers, challenging the approval of the Dakota Access Pipelines.
ACLU wins release of 90-page account of the CIA’s Office of Medical Services role in the CIA torture program.
In Pennsylvania, 9-jury panel reconsiders life without parole is unconstitutional for sentencing 18 year olds.
NYT investigation reveals #45’s ‘empire’ laundered $500 million in taxes over decades.
Detroit environmental justice organizer Siwatu-Salama RA, pregnant, and with toddler at home, freed after controversial ruling.
Following requests from Appalachian Mountain Advocates, attorneys from Norfolk, Huntington, and Pittsburgh district of the Army Corps of Engineers have each suspended its authorization of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
New Hampshire Democrats set to oust secretary of state notorious for backing GOP voter suppression.
In New Mexico, another Democrat wins Congressional seat after 8,000 votes are found in a warehouse.
A U.S. district court judge orders ICE to release within 30 days more than 100 Iraqis held in Michigan detention centers and jails for more than a year.
Democrat Ned Lamont wins Connecticut governor’s race.
Voters approve Prop C plan to tackle homeless crisis in San Francisco.
Florida voters pass offshore drilling ban.
Treasury Department announces it’s slapping sanctions on 17 Saudi government officials over the torture, murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi.
Democrat Andy Kim defeats Tom MacArthur who killed his own career when he tried to kill Obamacare.
Democrats sue over North Carolina GOP legislative gerrymanders.
Over 700 union members win seats in the midterm elections.
Democrat pediatrician Kim Schrier wins in Washington State.
Net neutrality supporters score major victories in House with Democrats supporting reversal of administration’s FCC 2017 net neutrality ruling.
One hundred twenty-three Congresspeople sign on to co-sponsor HR 676, single payer legislation, and sixteen Senators endorse S 1804, the Senate version.
City of Tucson passes resolution banning the privatization of its jails and detention centers.
Cosecha wins Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Jersey campaigns to get licenses for all residents, regardless of immigration status.
Cosecha wins in Georgia to end collaboration between the sheriff and ICE, and in NYC, Boston, and Philadelphia with #nobusinesswithICE campaigns.
The Ninth Circuit upholds a January 2018 order allowing renewals to continue for certain DACA recipients.
Federal judge blocks asylum ban for migrants entering illegally from Mexico.
Twenty-nine asylum-seeking families ordered released from Dilley Detention Center in South Texas.
Court grants temporary relief to desperate families seeking asylum.
Along the border, Texas volunteers open homes and heart to asylum seekers.
Calling for end of Western Imperialism, First International Conference Against U.S./NATO Bases is held in Dublin.
Reversing his $210 million pre-electoral stunt, #45 recalls troops from the U.S. Mexico border just as migrant caravan arrives.
Parkland students’ activism honored with international peace prize from Desmond Tutu.
Huge farm releases 100 turkeys to activists facing felony charges for investigating it.
Scientist unveils blueprint to plant wild flowers, saving bees and enriching farmers.