Greetings to the more than 770 of you who have signed up for my Community Rights newsletter. If you're surprised to see this in your mailbox, that's because although I produced this newsletter for awhile in the past, I haven't put out a single edition for at least a year! So first I want to thank all of you for signing up for this labor of love, that will be coming to you quite regularly from this point forward.
The movement of communities which are learning how to exercise their inherent right of self-governance, and dismantle corporate so-called Constitutional "rights", is growing rapidly. Every week, there's news from another community launching a new campaign, a relevant legal decision, a new essay or video from someone who's joining the conversation. 150 communities in eight states and climbing have now passed legally-binding locally-enforceable Community Rights ordinances. The primary hero in this effort is the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a public-interest law firm. They're the folks who have slogged, year in and year out, for about 13 years now, helping one community after another. So many of the stories you will read here come directly from their extraordinary work.
My intention is to comprehensively bring you these stories, week in and week out, to offer you a front-row seat, in the hopes that you might get so intrigued and excited by what is unfolding here, city by town by county, that you will consider getting involved so that YOUR community can be the next one to launch a campaign working group. Don't get me wrong, this is HARD WORK and can take a number of years to get ready to launch a local Community Rights law-making campaign. But I personally don't see other strategies out there which are having the political impact or track record.
I am thrilled that YOU are signed up to receive these updates. You won't be disappointed!
I promised my original subscribers that they would receive this newsletter every five to ten days. I feel comfortable with that original commitment. Now that I'm using MailChimp as my delivery system, you have some choices as to whether you want to receive it with or without graphics, or in a format most suited to mobile devices. Scroll down to the bottom, and you'll find a spot to click on to change your preferences.
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Here's the latest news from across the US and beyond, from communities which are stripping corporations of their so-called Constitutional "rights" and exercising their inherent right to govern themselves......
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So Your Community is Going to be Fracked, Mined, Factory Farmed, or fill in the blank...
(by Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund)
Communities across the country, trying to stop a wide range of threats - such as fracking, mining, factory farming, sewage sludging, water privatization, coal shipments, unsustainable energy development, and genetically modified seeds - all run into the same problem: they don't have the legal authority to say "no" to them.
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund organizes in communities facing such threats. We've created this short video to share with you how a structure of law has developed that stands in the way of us saying "no" to harmful activities such as fracking, and prevents us from building sustainable food, energy, water, and other systems. It walks step-by-step through the barriers we face in our communities and what communities are doing - and what you can do - about it.
Watch the video here: http://celdf.org/so-your-community-is-going-to-be-fracked-mined-or-fill-in-the-blank.
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A Pennsylvania judge holds that corporations are not "persons" in a landmark decision
Last week, a Pennsylvania county court gave a big boost to the fast-growing network of communities who have been engaging in Community Bill of Rights local law-making - elevating the rights of the community over the so-called "rights" of corporations. The judge ruled corporations are not "persons" under the Pennsylvania Constitution, and therefore, that corporations cannot elevate their "private rights" above the rights of people. She said that business entities "are but grapes, ripe upon the vine of the law, that the people of this Commonwealth raise, tend, and prune at their pleasure and need." More here: http://celdf.live2.radicaldesigns.org/downloads/A_New_Civil_Rights_Movement_032813.pdf
We The People 2.0, a new film that needs YOUR support
Tree Media, producing films such as The 11th Hour and Urban Roots, is making a new full-length documentary about CELDF's grassroots organizing and community partners. The film trailer was just released, and they need your help to complete the film. Their crowd-funding campaign officially ended a few days ago, but you can still make a donation here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/324241. Or to hear from the director, or watch the trailer, click here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/324241.
Fracking-ban amendment for Youngstown, Ohio, heads to May ballot
There are now legally-binding locally-enforceable Community Rights-based laws in place in 150 communities in eight states - Pennsylvania, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York, and just this past year in New Mexico and Ohio. Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and California, may soon be joining this list. Stay tuned!
The RIGHT to Community Broadband
(on Democracy Now, 3/4/2013)
A recent edition of Democracy Now featured a story about the battle to stop state governments from "prohibiting local governments from providing their own broadband services to their residents." 342 rural towns have already set up such services for their underserved populations. It's an all too familiar response from the state, which consistently defends corporate so-called "rights" over ours. Here's a quote from one of the interviewees: "[W]hat we do demand is that every community have the authority to make this decision for themselves." Seems reasonable enough. Unless corporations have the authority to exercise constitutional "rights", which they do all the time. Perhaps it's time for local communities to start passing Right to Community Broadband ordinances, similar to the already drafted Right to a Sustainable Energy Future and Community Self-Government ordinance, or many other examples now passed in 150 communities and climbing.
Illinois deal on fracking could be national model
(by Tammy Webber, Associated Press, 3/7/2013)
You won't find a better description of what it looks like for so-called "environmental groups" to sell out the environment, to compromise with the poisoners, before they had ever even tried to stop the fracking entirely. Anyone who lives in an area being fracked knows that it can NOT be done safely. That's as ridiculous as "clean coal" and "safe nukes". But major (corporate-led) environmental organizations think differently, and would prefer to "regulate" fracking (allow with rules) rather than to ban it. This is crazier still when you remember that CELDF has already assisted many communities across the US in passing effective bans on corporate fracking. Here's just one example from Pittsburgh, PA: http://celdf.org/downloads/Ordinance%20-%20Pittsburgh%20Protection%20from%20Gas%20Drilling.pdf. Or check out CELDF's Banning Fracking at the Local Level.
"We would love to see that kind of bipartisan cooperation," said Hugh McDiarmid, spokesman for the Michigan Environmental Council. The Illinois bill "has a lot of good ideas and a lot of things ... that mirror what we're trying to achieve in Michigan" because stopping or banning fracking would be unrealistic."
You can always learn a lot from who (or what!) has been invited to the negotiation table. In this case, it's Energy in Depth, the "educational" arm of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. Imagine if we started to exclude all corporate front group educational non-profit's from "educating" us about our energy policy options?
(Check out the corporate "environmental groups" that were at the table, claiming to represent both We The People, and our natural environment. One of them was the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. Its board includes folks from Shell and Chesapeake Energy. No, I'm not kidding.)
An Addition to the Climate Movement - Civil Disobedience ToolKit
(by Simon Davis-Cohen, in TruthOut, 3/11/2013)
The day some Seattle teachers said "NO" to standardized tests
The teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle continue to refuse to administer an absolutely ridiculous test to their students. The story about the teachers' unanimous decision has spread like wildfire to other schools across the country. In New York, 150 school principals co-signed a letter saying they are in full agreement. The Student Union's of many cities are organizing walk-outs on tests. The Garfield teachers cannot afford to lose this high-stakes battle for the future of public education. Shall we have corporate-run charter schools? Or can we somehow manage to reverse this ugly trend? Here's a very impressive 21-minute documentary to watch and share widely: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/03/13/the-day-some-seattle-teachers-said-no-to-standardized-tests/. And then ask yourself: can we afford to continue to resist one corporate/state assault on our public education system after another, or is it perhaps time for us to draft, city by town, a legally-binding locally-enforceable Community Bill of Rights that frees our public schools from ALL corporate influence, and puts ALL key decision-making back in the hands of the parents, teachers, students, and local government? No, this is not a pipe dream. The Community Rights PDX group has drafted just such a plank as part of our Community Bill of Rights template.
Thanks for your good attention to these important issues! Look for another edition of Community Rights Update in five to ten days.
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