Category Archives: politics

Chicago mayor Emanuel posts EPA’s deleted climate change page

By Edward-Isaac Dovere  05/06/17

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s response to the Trump administration pulling down its website detailing information about climate change: putting up his own.

The new section of the City of Chicago’s website, launched this weekend, pulls data from the archived Environmental Protection Agency page, noting, “while this information may not be readily available on the agency’s webpage right now, here in Chicago we know climate change is real and we will continue to take action to fight it.” Emanuel is promising to build the site out more in the coming weeks, using city resources.

“The Trump administration can attempt to erase decades of work from scientists and federal employees on the reality of climate change, but burying your head in the sand doesn’t erase the problem,” Emanuel said.

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Opinion: Chicago’s Newest Skyscraper Deepens Local Divide Over Globalization

By Jeff Tangel

Re-posted from South Side Weekly, April 12, 2017

Last August, construction started on the Jeanne Gang-designed, Chinese-funded downtown skyscraper Wanda Vista, which will be the third-tallest building in Chicago when it is completed. The building has been heavily promoted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration, but for some, it has become a symbol for the divisive effects of globalization on local economies once reliant on now-outsourced jobs, from manufacturing and engineering, to tech support and reading x-rays.

 

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S
am Wilson is seventy-three years old, tall and gregarious with an infectious elfin laugh. Whenever he shows up to volunteer at the Canaan M.B.C. Food Ministry in Englewood, where we work, he announces with a challenging grin, “The real man is here.”  Everyone laughs.

Sam came to Chicago as part of the second Great Migration, arriving in 1960, an eager young man of seventeen from Senatobia, Mississippi. Work was easy to find back then, and he quickly landed a job as a janitor for FS Tiger, a Jewish family-owned clothing manufacturer. FS Tiger was one of many similar Chicago companies that made high quality clothing for local and national markets. Everyone needed clothing, so the work was good.

Young Sam was a good worker. “I see so much more you can do, Sam,” FS Tiger’s foreman Mr. Wagner told him—and so he was well-paid, mentored, and regularly promoted. The family came to rely on his skillful ability to cut mounds of expensive fabric with exacting detail, and often sought his guidance on how best to conduct important parts of their business. When the company was struggling, Sam saw a way to turn fabric waste into revenue by selling scraps to a cap manufacturer across the street. And so a small ecosystem flourished.

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Image Source: South Side Weekly 4/12/17, photo by Steven Vance  (cropped)
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EPA website removes climate science site from public view after two decades

Reposted from The Washington Post
“Democracy Dies in Darkness”

April 29 at 8:28 AM

EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency headquarters.
(Photo by Matt McClain/ The Washington Post)

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday evening that its website would be “undergoing changes” to better represent the new direction the agency is taking, triggering the removal of several agency websites containing detailed climate data and scientific information.

One of the websites that appeared to be gone had been cited to challenge statements made by the EPA’s new administrator, Scott Pruitt. Another provided detailed information on the previous administration’s Clean Power Plan, including fact sheets about greenhouse gas emissions on the state and local levels and how different demographic groups were affected by such emissions.

The changes came less than 24 hours before thousands of protesters were set to march in Washington and around the country in support of political action to push back against the Trump administration’s rollbacks of former president Barack Obama’s climate policies.

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Do Not Normalize What Should Not Be Normalized

By Jeff VanderMeer

 

A Void

This Earth Day it may be of use to think about how elements of weird fiction relate to the political sphere. Rather than creating escapism, mapping elements of the Anthropocene, especially malign agents operating in the real world, via the idea of the uncanny may create a greater and more visceral understanding (render more visible certain truths), precisely because so many of the effects of this era are felt in and under the skin, as well as in the subconscious.

The pursuit of the idea of hauntings in this context is in a sense the pursuit of recontextualizing or defamiliarizing, so that we do not normalize what should not be normalized. That weird fiction is up to this challenge should be clear even from the recent publication of Giorgio De Maria’s 1970s masterpiece The Twenty Days of Turin, an uncanny text that uses hauntings to comment on the neo-fascist violence in the city of Turin at the time. Because of the use of the weird in the service of the political, this novel remains relevant today.

Closer to home in both space and time, some hauntings are obvious because more noxious and aggressive, and they come with their own horror stories.

For example, in Florida, we have a sitting governor, Rick Scott, and a Department of Environmental Protection that showcase a particular nexus of toxic, counterfactual fictions spun out in the service of a particular agenda—including fracking, denial of global warming, and pollution of waterways—that occupies a traditionally nonfictional space that has become remarkably less so over the last twenty years. There is the world in which we breathe, eat, create waste, and absorb toxins from the air, earth, and water—and then there is an invisible world composed of strands of human thought that makes malign story-telling easier to sustain, for a variety of reasons.

Within this context, Scott represents a fiction that has metastasized as fact—deforming, creating stress for, and living in bodies as a form of possession of those ordered to carry out missives they know are destructive.

Scott’s psychopathy can also be thought of as a localized manifestation of a hyperobject wraith, Rick Scott’s Department of Environmental Protection re-envisioned as a haunting transformed under the skin by malignant storytelling and infiltrating Florida—an invisible pollution released into the world like the natural gas leak that went untreated near Porter Ranch outside of Los Angeles.

On the opposite side of this country from Florida, Oregon recently experienced a slightly different haunting: the reappearance of Manifest Destiny, in the form of the Malheur occupiers —terrorists, really—militia members who cling to another kind of fiction as their truth: That there never really were any Native Americans with a claim to the land and that Nature is just there to drive a road through and wildlife is just there to be used, and scientific discovery on the refuge is pointless.

We might think of the Malheur occupiers as outliers, but, in fact, like Rick Scott’s dysfunctional narrative of business and industry, what the Malheur incident lays bare is just a more extreme version of ideas encoded in the DNA of the United States and expressed in what is widely seen as acceptable ways—coursing through the subtext of car commercials, movies, books, and cultural and societal conversations.

Because a haunting is often about some issue or situation that has not been resolved, that society has plastered over or turned away from in order to avoid dealing with uncomfortable truths. (See also: Spain and Franco.)

The hauntings generated by Donald J. Trump pose a particular philosophical and ideological challenge or danger or trap, exemplified by how even a brilliant thinker like Latour can seem to partially miss the mark in his comments about the situation excerpted in the latest issue of Harper’s. We must all forgive each other for misdiagnoses given such a volatile and unpredictable landscape.

That said, in terms of the uncanny and dark ecologies, it seems useful to examine how Trump forms the nexus or landscape for a malign ecosystem, a kind of anti-ecology whose very lack of physical world granularity forms a kind of defensive shield around it. This anti-ecological system provides niches for deadly invasive species and by that I mean modes of corrosive thought that haunt us as policy positions and, now, national law.

Rick Scott lives within the corpse-face of Trump and so do the Malheur terrorists, along with myriad others. And if one parasite dies off, another inevitably takes its place—the Trump anti-ecosystem can re-seed at will. It is a stable space in that regard—the kind of void that attracts agency to it. With the organisms that live there identifiable only by their ability to thrive in a corpse-face death space.

(Although let’s be honest—we’re really looking at a rotting corpse full of maggots. Although to be honest yet again, there is nothing wrong with real maggots or real rotting corpses.)

A natural tendency to want to be predictive hampers us in diagnosing the haunting that is Trump—we want to know what will happen next or think the prior manifestations will continue into the future in the same manner. But it is not Trump, except in the most general of ways, that should be predicted, because while his ambitions are simple his agency often derives from the things that peer out from him. The haunting here is one that he hardly knows anything about even as it devours him and us.

So in our work of resistance, we must contemplate this void and also find the ghosts that live within it and ceaselessly drive them out. Exorcise them for good—a difficult but not impossible task. Even parasites and wraiths contain finite agency—and the void will become void again. Stable, yes, but perhaps a little more inert. With less power.

Geologic time, it should be noted, cares nothing for Trump. There is nothing about Trump that is huge or tiny to geologic time or to the physical laws of the universe; to those forces Trump simply does not exist. If this should seem to foreshadow a diminishment of our own powers, let us at least take solace, as we resist him, that he is not immune from the effects of any of the many things he denies.

The uncanny has infiltrated the real, and in some sense that boundary is forever compromised. The things that haunt us in this age are often the things we care about or have some connect to, no matter how slight, and if they are also the things that matter we either need to become cynics or hedonists and change the things we care about so we don’t care when they’re destroyed, so the hauntings cannot affect us . . . or, more bravely and with more effort, let them haunt us even if it is painful, and through that haunting find some kind of act or agency or sense of the truth that is meaningful. No matter how large. No matter how small.

All while the hyperobject I am trying to pin down looms over me and shines through me and is all places and in all ways is shining out and looming over.

Resist.

 

Note: Image from VanderMeer’s Earth Week keynote address at DePaul University on April 19th, 2017.

 

 

 

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Trump’s Budget

Trump's Budget by artist Michael Koester 2017 03 17 (copyright free image)

Image by Michael Koester, mike@97520.net  Koester has advised us that this image is not under copyright, so please re-post widely with your own comments and artwork on blogs and social media.  You can see more of Mike’s work on Facebook at Shawna Tre (the name of his service dog).  Koester’s work also appears in an AAAS-PD volume,  Art Inspired by Science: Imaging the Natural World, by Robert Louis Chianese.  (Click on image below to purchase the book.)

Art & Science

 

 

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Jeff VanderMeer and Storytelling in the Anthropocene, at DePaul

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by | March 15, 2017 · 20:06

CHICAGO CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES DIVESTMENT FROM FOSSIL FUELS

By Chicago 350

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The Chicago City Council, led by the Progressive Caucus in partnership with a local grassroots chapter of 350.org, will consider full divestment of City funds from fossil fuel holdings. A resolution for divestment, co-sponsored by 39 aldermen, will be on the Committee on Finance’s agenda some time in February or March.  ***PLEASE NOTE: The hearing scheduled for February 21st was recently postponed.***

The resolution, which “require(s) divestment from stocks and bonds of Fossil Fuel Companies over the next 5 years and prohibit(s) investment in stock or bonds of Fossil Fuel Companies thereafter,” is the result of efforts by the Council’s Progressive Caucus and local grassroots organizations to take action on climate change. 350.org has led the divestment movement, which is the fastest growing divestment movement in history with 696 institutions divested (totaling an approximate value of $5.44 trillion dollars) in just 5 years.  Over a dozen local organizations have signed letters of endorsement for the resolution, including The Sierra Club, Chicago Recycling Coalition, Blacks in Green, 8th Day Center for Justice, and Chicago Youth Alliance for Climate Action.

While the City Council and organizers recognize divestment as only one part of successful climate change mitigation, divestment supporters aim to protect City finances against the projected declining value of fossil fuel stocks and bonds. As modern energy technologies displace fossil fuels in utilities and transportation, stocks tied to the previous century’s energy portfolio are expected to drop in value. Since the City of Chicago requires stable, long-term investments for its financial health, divestment supporters say, the City’s holdings must shift away from aging portfolios based on outdated energy sources.

“Climate change means deadly heat waves, such as the one that killed 739 vulnerable Chicagoans in the summer of 1995, a polluted Lake Michigan and dirty air. We cannot stand for this as representatives of the people and as stewards of their future,” said Alderman John Arena (45th Ward), a co-sponsor on the resolution and member of the Progressive Reform Caucus. “We must divest pensions from fossil fuels, and invest in clean energy.”

The full resolution is available at the Office of the City Clerk and online (https://chicago.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2908429&GUID=85803769-1BDB-4A93-A569-F9CA140C2216). Questions regarding local support for divestment should be directed to <350chicago350@gmail.com>. See facebook.com/Chicago350.org for more information regarding grassroots efforts towards divestment in Chicago.

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