Airstrikes, Resistbot, Clean Power Plan: This Week in Politics and Resistance


This Week in Politics and Resistance is a new feature on Flavorwire. It’s a consolidation of the work we started with our Daily Engagement column, which have been running (as the name suggests) daily since the election. This new feature is aimed at keeping people abreast of what’s going down in politics throughout the week — and hopefully helping readers feel somewhat less helpless and hopeless (or at least in control of their helplessness and hopelessness) in the midst of a political news cycle that’s ceaselessly awful. We try to lay out the awfulness in such a manner that you can at least see it coming, and prepare for ways to resist it — whether that’s by attending a planned protest, calling specific members of Congress, or donating to an organization that deals directly with an issue to which the Trump administration has dealt a new blow.

Oppose Donald Trump’s Effort to Undo the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan

Ready for another of those literally noxious executive orders? The Guardian reports that tomorrow, Donald Trump is expected to sign one attempting to undo the work the Obama administration did to combat climate change and greenhouse gas emissions —which, itself, was both the biggest American attempt to limit our carbon footprint, and still only an incrementalist step — with the nullification of the Clean Power Plan. Scott Pruitt, the counterintuitive (as was of course the plan) head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said of the incoming order, “This is about making sure that we have a pro-growth and pro-environment approach to how we do regulation in this country” — which, for this administration, is the exact same thing as saying “This is about making sure we have an anti-environment approach to how we do regulation in this country.”

The Clean Power Plan acknowledged that carbon dioxide needs to be regulated in order to prevent — or at least slow — the cataclysmic potential of climate change; Pruitt, who as attorney general of Oklahoma in 2015 sued to halt the Obama admin’s order (which was ultimately put on hold for a review by an appeals court), does not believe carbon dioxide is impacting global temperatures — or, at least, he says he doesn’t believe it, which just happens to protect polluting capitalists. Beyond attempting to suck the American ground dry and then fill the air with its charred innards, Trump and Pruitt also sell the false narrative that the Clean Power Plan was anti-growth, when in fact clean energy is an industry whose growth would bring about “thousands more new jobs.”

What you can do: If you’re in New York today (Monday), you can attend the organizing meeting for the People’s Climate March in D.C. (the meeting is tonight; the march is on April 29.) It should also be mentioned that the reason the Clean Power Plan itself was put on hold was due to state opposition, so get ready to call your Governors, Senators and Representatives, and anyone with power who represents you who could vocally dissent. As 5 Calls notes, there’s also a separate but very related act — the “HONEST Act (HR 1430)” — that’s being voted on in the House on Wednesday, which seeks to put restrictions on the EPA’s research; you could certainly call your Representatives to oppose this. (The above 5 Calls link has a script for the call.)

Get Informed About the Brutality of Careless Airstrikes

This weekend, it was reported that a U.S. coalition led airstrike was responsible for the deaths of up to 200 civilians in Mosul’s Aghawat Jadidah neighborhood on March 17. (CNN has reported that 112 bodies have been pulled from the site.) The attempt, according to a statement issued by the Pentagon, was to target Islamic State fighters — but the result would, if witness accounts of death tolls prove accurate, mark the highest amount of civilian deaths in the last three years of our involvement there. (The Pentagon has admitted in total to killing 220 civilians in Syria and Iraq since mid-2014, but according to the Independent, other monitoring groups have estimated numbers as high as 3,000). A Civilian Casualty Credibility Assessment is taking place, and seeks, as per the Los Angeles Times, to see “whether the coalition airstrike hit civilian buildings; whether an accumulation of airstrikes in the area degraded the structural integrity of buildings before they fell; or whether Islamic State detonated an explosion after the airstrike to bring structures down, according to Col. John Thomas, Central Command spokesman.” Trump has said nothing so far about the attacks. Expect to see further reports on what seems to have been a cruelly un-precise military attack on the part of the coalition.

Glenn Greenwald notes in the Intercept that “The number of civilians killed in Syria and Iraq began increasing in October under Obama but has now skyrocketed in March under Trump…What’s particularly notable is that the number of airstrikes actually decreased in March (with a week left), even as civilian deaths rose — strongly suggesting that the U.S. military has become even more reckless about civilian deaths under Trump than it was under Obama.” One thing you can do is donate to Airwars, an organization that seeks to cut through the governmental euphemisms and seeming gross underestimates about airstrikes. It’s described on its website as “a collaborative, not-for-profit transparency project aimed both at tracking and archiving the international air war against so-called Islamic State and other groups in Iraq, Syria and Libya.”

Oppose the Keystone Pipeline

And in other terrible environment news, we bring you (well, Trump brings you, and hopefully we can all make it just a little bit harder for Trump to bring you) the Keystone XL Pipeline, whose permit for construction Trump approved last week! After many years of irksomely considering it himself, Barack Obama ultimately reached the conclusion that “America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action on climate change… Frankly, approving that project would have undercut that global leadership, and that is the biggest risk we face: not acting.” And of course, every good decision Obama ultimately made is now being opposite day-ed (or at least that’s the attempt — as the failure of the AHCA showed us, collective opposition can work wonders) by Trump, who also recently continued construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline. Though Trump’s promise for all of the oily shits his administration takes on the environment is “jobs,” the Keystone XL Pipeline would only create 35 permanent jobs, as Congressman Raúl M Grijalva wrote in January in the Guardian, noting that it’d pose similar dangers to Native land as DAPL. “Keystone XL would run on top of the Ogallala Aquifer, a vast multi-state underground reservoir that provides water to millions of Americans, including many Native American tribes, across the midwest,” he emphasized.

What you can do: Tonight, environmental nonprofit 350 will host an “online strategy session” of opposition to Keystone; that link includes a sign-up for a separate link for a recording of the session. The Sierra Club has a petition (with a public comment you can personalize). The company behind the pipeline, TransCanada, needs approval from Nebraska and the Nebraska Public Service Commission — and the petition asks them to reject the permit.

Oppose the Confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court

And then there’s Neil Gorsuch. Last week, democrats announced that they’d filibuster his confirmation to the Supreme Court, and CNN reports that, with 52 Republicans in Senate, the GOP needs eight Democrats to move to their side to end the imminent filibuster. (They could also get around it by taking the controversial “nuclear option” of simply changing the rules.)

What you can do: Right now, the sole Democratic Senator who plans not to participate in the filibuster is Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — so if you happen to be a West Virginian Democrat, call him to pressure him to do otherwise; and call your democratic Senators anywhere else to urge them to stick to their word. (Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont also seems like he’s on the fence.)

Text Resistbot

As the Guardian notes, there’s a new tool for resistance that provides ease and immediacy in contacting your elected officials. According to the website, “Resistbot turns your text messages into daily letters to Congress— in the simplest and easiest way possible. We are working hard behind the scenes to make sure they are delivered and that your representatives take them seriously.” Check out the website, and if you’re not too weirded out by the prospect of entering political messages into the unknown on the other end of your phone (really not much different than signing an online petition), text “Resist” to the number provided, and you’ll be able to begin.