Los Angeles, USA teachers’ strike, 10 January


This 20 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

After 20 months of fruitless bargaining and lies and manipulation on the part of LAUSD Supt. Austin Beutner, United Teachers Los Angeles today announced a strike date of Thursday, January 10.

By Eric A Gordon in the USA:

Friday, January 4, 2019

Saying ‘Enough is enough!’ Los Angeles teachers set strike date

ERIC A GORDON explains why LA educators are taking industrial action later this month

AT A news conference last month United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) dropped the other shoe: after 20 months of anxious but unfruitful negotiation with the Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD) and what UTLA calls “bad faith bargaining,” the 31,000-strong union has said: “Enough is enough!” and has called a strike of its members beginning on January 10.

In an August vote of the membership, a full 98 per cent of union members voted to authorise a strike if bargaining continued to stall.

The labour action follows successful mass teachers’ mobilisations this past year in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, North Carolina, Colorado, Kentucky and elsewhere.

UTLA represents counsellors, librarians and nurses aside from teachers. UTLA’s last strike took place in 1989 and lasted nine days.

Teachers across the country are essentially saying the same thing to boards of education and those who set federal, state and local budgets: don’t abandon our children!

Some of their demands address teacher salaries which have not kept up with rising costs, and which drive talented professionals away from the field.

As often as not, however, the teachers have pointed to other problems which have devastating effects on the children they are trying to educate for successful lives. For example, according to the statement on December 19, UTLA is demanding that LAUSD immediately:

Use the $1.9 billion in unrestricted reserves for smaller class sizes; for more nurses, counsellors, and librarians; and to fully fund US schools;
Commit to more support for special education, early education, bilingual education, and adult education;
End the toxic overtesting of our students, which crowds out instruction in arts, music, ethnic studies, and science.
Empower parent and educator voices at the school site with stronger Local School Leadership Councils; and
Address the charter industry drain that siphons more than $600 million from US schools every year.

Each of these points directly affects student outcomes. As one kindergarten teacher said to me: “I’m thinking of telling my kids: ‘If you’re going to get sick, make sure it’s Tuesday because that’s the day the nurse is here’.”

Otherwise, parents are called and the students are sent home, perhaps unnecessarily.

“Unless these issues are genuinely addressed and reflected in a bargaining proposal,” UTLA says, “educators will be on the picket lines beginning Thursday January 10.”

LAUSD has been a battleground for years as wealthy industrialists, investors and funders bankroll campaigns for seats on the school board, favouring charter school advocates who essentially aim to destroy public education.

It is an attack on the commonweal that echoes throughout the United States.

A demonstration in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday December 15 that attracted 50,000-plus red-shirted teachers, parents and supporters marched over to the Broad Museum, a showcase for the art collection of Eli and Edythe Broad.

Marchers chanted: “Education is a right!” and “Who’s got the power? … We’ve got the power! What kind of power? … union power!”

Eli Broad is the “B” of K&B Homes, also known as Kaufman & Broad, a development corporation responsible for creating thousands and thousands of mid-range suburban homes.

He has exercised his financial muscle in recruiting charter school candidates to the LA school board. Last May, a pro-privatisation majority appointed millionaire Austin Beutner as LAUSD superintendent, who has proposed breaking up the LA schools into 32 “portfolio” districts with little or no public accountability or common standards.

Beutner is backed by other wealthy individuals as well, such as former LA mayor Richard Riordan, the Walton family (of Walmart fame) and John Arnold, former Enron executive and hedge fund manager.

Privatising public education is one of the top prizes in the neoliberal race to the bottom, exposing what was once the pride of our nation, our public school system, to the greed of corporate hucksters and profiteers in the Betsy DeVos mould.

Austin Beutner, a former investment banker with no prior experience in public education, refuses to use the district’s record-breaking $1.9 billion reserve for basic student needs and will not address the $600 million drained from neighbourhood public schools by the corporate charter schools. He is reported to have personal ties to the charter school industry, which at present enrols one in 10 students in California.

The portfolio model has come up short in other cities, such as Newark, New Orleans and Indianapolis. Among its failures are increased school closings, heightened segregation, and disparities between schools, overcrowded classrooms, outdated textbooks and compromised learning conditions.

More than nine out of 10 LAUSD students are children of colour — Latin American, Asian and black primarily. As spending decreases on this second-largest public education system in the country (after New York City), it is widely seen as a racial attack on the future for these 600,000 kids.

Although it is the richest state in the country, California’s spending per pupil ranks only 43rd out of 50.

It ranks 48th in student-to-teacher ratios, and LA’s ratio is among the highest in the state, with classrooms of 45 students not uncommon.

As part of the bargaining process, a neutral fact-finding committee studied the issues in LAUSD. Its report, released on December 18, underlines several UTLA positions: that LAUSD had $1.8bn in reserves, though the total is now closer to $2bn (the annual budget is approximately $7.5bn); that LAUSD should increase staffing of nurses, counsellors and other professional staff; and that LAUSD should eliminate a section of the contract that allows the district the unilateral right to increase class size.

As far as salaries go, LA teachers are lagging behind other districts in nearby cities. In Long Beach, the second-largest city in Los Angeles County, for example, a starting salary is $52,208, rising with years of continuing education and experience to $106,679.

In LA, however, teachers start at $43,913 and top out at $86,225. UTLA points out that in 2017 members of the school board received a 174 per cent pay raise.

One problem for teachers is that many are forced to take second and third jobs to make ends meet in a high-rent city such as LA; another is that the work can be so discouraging after the first couple of optimistic years that turnover is tremendous. Many teachers simply do not last more than four or five years in the system.

There is still a wide gap between what Beutner is offering and what UTLA is demanding. Even the offer Beutner has made comes with unacceptable conditions such as making it harder to qualify for healthcare in retirement and requiring more work hours now.

“As was demonstrated when more than 50,000 people marched through the streets of LA on December 15, if we strike, it will be a strike for our students, a strike with our parents, and a strike for educational and racial justice,” says Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of UTLA.

“We have watched underfunding and the actions of privatisers undermine our schools for too long. No more. Our students and families are worth the investment, and the civic institution of public education in Los Angeles is worth saving.”

Is there a budget crisis? That is a subjective question, of course, aside from the almost $2bn reserve in the system at present. In socialist countries which were making efforts at greater egalitarianism among their populations, a visitor would often be told: “There is only one privileged class of people here: Children.”

The essential issue is how much of a priority a society places on a full and rich education for its people as an investment in its future. If the privatisers have their way, working people in coming years will not be able to read a manual or a map, compute formulas, understand scientific principles, speak a second language, learn to play music, etc, etc.

Are US schools failing? It depends what you mean by that. If you mean, are we bringing kids up in ignorance of the world, unable to balance a bank account, uneducated as to the way their bodies work, incapable of filling out a job application, deprived of meaningful physical training and sports, left alone to get into trouble with the law, destined to get caught in the maw of the prison-industrial-military complex, then yes, our schools are truly accomplishing the goals of the global corporate enterprise and are a brilliant success! As candidate Donald Trump used to say: “I love the uneducated!”

But that’s not what professional educators want — nor the parents, nor the students. That is an extremely short-sighted vision of what it means to be educated in today’s world.

The US’s greatness must start with a rededication to a world-class public education system across the land. We cannot squander our children’s future, because it is our entire collective future as a nation.

Perhaps the new Democratic supermajorities in the California Senate and Assembly will take the education challenge to heart.

And the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives may also start recommending some improvement on the national level. If not, they will surely be hearing from their constituents.

A line in the sand has been drawn. All eyes in LA are on what happens on January 10 and beyond.

Los Angeles school officials hire strikebreakers as teachers prepare for walkout: here.

Los Angeles teachers, who were set to strike on Thursday, reacted with anger and frustration over the decision by the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) to postpone their strike despite the intransigence of school district officials and nearly 20 months of fruitless negotiations, state mediation and fact-finding: here.

“All the teachers across the nation should come out”. California, Michigan educators call for joint action with LA teachers: here.

Demonstrating Los Angeles, USA teachers interviewed


This 15 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Striking Los Angeles teachers had a huge rally in downtown Los Angeles. The president of the union gives reasons for the strike.

This 15 December 2018 sequel video from the USA is called A huge crowd marching in downtown Los Angeles in support of the teachers’ strike for better conditions.

From the World Socialist Web Site in the USA:

Los Angeles teachers and supporters speak out at mass rally

“We don’t want the wars, we don’t want the prisons, we want that money to go to students who need it”

By our reporters

18 December 2018

Reporters with the World Socialist Web Site were warmly received by dozens of teachers and their supporters at a mass rally in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday. The event marked a significant turning point in the struggle against the attacks on public education both in the United States and internationally.

Between 30,000 and 50,000 teachers and their supporters arrived to express their opposition to school cuts and the growing social crisis, which finds countless expressions within the classroom.

As teachers made clear, they found it impossible to separate their struggle for better wages and classroom funding from the overall social crisis affecting millions of student youth. …

Among the teachers spoken to by WSWS reporters, many lamented the fact that while youth should spend their time in school cultivating their minds, they instead must contend with overcrowded classrooms, deteriorating school sites, lack of school nurses, librarians and a whole host of issues that are the direct product of decades of funding cuts.

Elena Kelly is originally from Spain and has taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for 30 years. She began her career as an elementary school teacher and has taught Spanish at Marshall High School for the past three years.

Elena and Luz

“Over time, things have gone from bad to worse”, she said. “It’s going to hell. Class sizes, working conditions, everything is going to hell. It’s almost to the point where I want to retire, and I love teaching. There’s disrespect at every level. We should be treated with respect. We shouldn’t have to listen to businessmen and capitalists tell us how to educate children. What do they know? If we privatize everything, which is what they’re trying to do, it will all go to hell.”

Howard Stone had been an LAUSD teacher for 17 years and has recently retired. He told our reporters that he’s a reader of the World Socialist Web Site. He particularly liked the series on the CIA Democrats in which the WSWS exposed the direct takeover of the Democratic Party by more than 40 former and current high-ranking members of the military and intelligence agencies running for national office last November.

“Conditions got progressively worse during my time as a teacher in LAUSD”, Stone said. “The whole corporate takeover that’s going on finally made me leave, I couldn’t take it anymore. It’s the adults that drove me out, not the students. The imposition from the top on everything, the lack of critical thinking. Nowadays, when I meet substitute teachers that tell me they’re considering getting a credential, I tell them not to, that things are just getting worse and worse for teachers.”

When asked about the larger role of the Democrats in the attacks on public education, Stone had this to say: “The thing with [Democratic California Governor] Gavin Newsom is that he’s like a Governor Macron or Governor Obama, he only speaks for the rich and the financiers. I strongly opposed Newsom and was so upset when the UTLA endorsed him for governor.”

Cynthia North is a French teacher currently working in the suburb of Panorama:

“I’m so disgusted with the lack of respect for public education. My current school is 98 percent Latino, and I have watched since 2016 the unending trauma that my students have endured. I now teach in between trauma, teaching comes as secondary to dealing with my students’ emotional well-being.”

Cynthia

David Singer is a first-year teacher at Tarzana Elementary who also stated that he was a reader of the World Socialist Web Site. “I haven’t met one teacher who wasn’t going above and beyond to help their students in so many different ways”, he said. “Teachers are slandered in the media, but we’re powerless to affect the conditions outside of school, the socioeconomic and cultural conditions that our students face. It’s a systemic crisis.

“We’ve heard regular stories of parents keeping their students at home out of fear of deportation. This has led to so many drops in attendance among our students. The young girl’s death at the detention center is horrible and deeply tragic. It points to the inhumanity of the Trump administration.”

When asked about the mood among teachers to strike, Singer said, “I really appreciate and respect the solidarity among teachers. We’re 100 percent ready to strike at any site.”

Jill Fink is a teacher at Woodlake Elementary who has taught for 23 years: “My ancestors came from Europe, Jewish immigrants looking for religious freedom and opportunities for their children. I became a teacher because I wanted students to have a better life. Public education is pretty much the only thing which is really for everyone. No matter your background or family, you have the right to a good education.”

Asked about lack of funding for public education, Fink stated, “We don’t want the wars, we don’t want the prisons, we want that money to go to students who need it.”

Zoe, a parent at the demonstration supporting teachers, said, “It’s very important to support public education. Teachers should be paid a lot more than they are now. Particularly with the Trump administration, teachers have to deal with how every problem in our community affects kids. They’re here for kids in poverty, homelessness, refugees, just any kind of trauma. This generation and the next are worse off than the ones before and that’s probably the first time that happened.”

The WSWS spoke with Jeanine Rittenberg, a school nurse, who was holding a sign reading: “My students deserve a nurse every day. Less testing and more learning.” She came as part of a delegation from Hubbard Elementary School.

Jeanine Rittenburg with coworkers

“We have 600 kids. Some have asthma, diabetes and spina bifida. There are several in wheelchairs and one student has a trachea. Then there are the everyday things like broken arms and pink eye. Lice is a huge one. Once that starts, it goes rampant, and you have to personally check every student’s hair.

“So being there only one day a week is outrageous. They need me every single day.

“We’ve been in negotiations for 20 months. We give so much of ourselves to our students every day, every year. I think it’s horrible that we’re not being supported by our own superintendent.”

Craig Gross has been teaching for 32 years. He teaches science at Foshay, a K-12 school with 2,200 students: “We’re trying to make it safer for our students. Most classrooms, especially the high school classes, have 40 or more students. Our nurse, psychologist, and social worker are all part-time.”

Liz Velasquez held up a sign that read: “All schools should have a Teacher-Librarian and updated school library materials.” She told the WSWS, “I’m a teacher-librarian at a magnet school in South LA with 1,600 students. It is very overwhelming. The normal ratio is one librarian to 800 students. I have double that, and I’m running a very tight schedule.

Liz Velasquez, librarian

“Not only do I need to work with every class that comes to the library, showing them how to check out books and also do research. For the kindergarten classes, I personally visit each one, read stories and get them excited about reading.

“I also have to update the material, buy new books to support the curriculum and topics. I work with all the teachers. Most of the books were published in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“During the last big layoffs because of the recession, a lot of librarians were let go. Recently they had to shut down the library for a whole month because of mold. The library is supposed to be a safe place for students where they can have resources to support their projects.

“There should be fully stocked and fully staffed libraries in every school. Librarians support the teachers because we help build literacy skills and also give the teachers a break during their busy days. We customize our teaching to help the classroom teachers, whether focusing on poetry, nonfiction, research. Some people don’t realize that we are teachers as well, not just helping kids check out books.”

Our reporters also spoke to another school nurse who explained her experience in LAUSD. Zabrina has worked for the district for several years. “I’m called throughout the day to go from one school to another to take care of students”, she said. “There’s a shortage of nurses and we’re spread extremely thin.”

Zabrina

Commenting on the amount of money that is instead allocated for war and the military, Zabrina said, “The problem is that it doesn’t help our students, our children. The conditions in which we work aren’t good. Money is being put in the wrong place instead of what our students need.

“I work in poverty areas where kids have a lot of needs. Some of these children don’t have any medical care outside of what they get in school. That’s why it’s important that there’s a school nurse in every location.”

Elaborating on the question of poverty, Zabrina said, “A lot of the kids don’t have what they need at home and when they come to school they should find a safe place and in order for them to learn and engage they have to be healthy. If the school cannot satisfy their basic needs, that says it all.

“There are the haves and the have nots. It’s turned into that type of situation. There is really no middle anymore. Social inequality has increased especially here in Los Angeles.”

Anti-Mexican American violence in 1943


This video says about itself:

The Zoot Suit Riots

3 June 2017

Today in 1943, hundreds of white Naval soldiers drove down to the historic Mexican-American neighborhood of East Los Angeles to attack Chicano pachucos. During WWII, Chicanos wore flamboyant and fabric heavy outfits that, in addition to blatant racism, created a convenient excuse to target young Mexicans. The day of the riots soldiers stripped pachucos in zoot suits naked, burning their clothes and attacking them with clubs.

Bernie Sanders rally in Los Angeles, USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

Bernie Sanders Los Angeles GOTV Concert Rally, CA 6/4/2016 LA Memorial Coliseum – Bernie Sanders Los Angeles California Rally at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Olympic Plaza – Full Speech: Bernie Sanders Live from Los Angeles, CA – A Future to Believe In Los Angeles GOTV Concert – Rally Live Event

Join Bernie Sanders in Los Angeles for a GOTV Concert featuring Ozomatli, Mark Foster (Foster the People), Best Coast, Iration and Local Natives, as well as special guests Josh Fox, Max Carver, Dick van Dyke, Susan Sarandon and Shailene Woodley.

Time:

Saturday, June 4, 2016 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM PDT

From British daily The Morning Star:

United States: Thousands feel the Bern in California

Monday 6th June 2016

THOUSANDS of supporters gathered to hear US Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders in Los Angeles, California, on Saturday night, the latest in a string of huge rallies for the leftwinger.

Despite a last-minute venue change to the Memorial Coliseum, an estimated 13,500 turned up to support the rival to Wall Street darling Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton wants small, incremental changes. We want to transform this nation,” Mr Sanders told the crowd.

On Thursday the “democratic socialist” addressed 6,000 people in Chico, and thousands more turned out to see him speak in Palo Alto on Wednesday.

Mr Sanders theoretically needs two-thirds of the vote to stay in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Ms Clinton’s win in the US Virgin Islands on Saturday put her on 2,323 delegates to Sanders’s 1,547, but that could change if unelected “superdelegates” opt to switch their pledges after the California primary.

Black Lives Matter and Clinton in the USA


This video from the USA says about itself:

Black Lives Matter Activist: Bill Clinton’s Defense of “Superpredator” Policies Dehumanizes Us

11 April 2016

The Black Lives Matter movement continues to shake up the race to the White House. On Thursday, activists in Philadelphia disrupted a speech by former President Bill Clinton, who was campaigning on behalf of Hillary Clinton. The activists called out the Clintons for their support for the 1994 crime bill, which led to a massive expansion of incarceration in the United States, and Hillary Clinton’s 1996 comments that some youth were “superpredators.”

In response, Bill Clinton defended Hillary Clinton’s use of the term “superpredators” and accused the activists of defending criminals. We speak to Melina Abdullah, an organizer with Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles. “[Bill Clinton] is very good at … distracting us from how systems create these conditions,” says Abdullah. “They act as if the young folks who wind up committing crimes … as if they weren’t human beings. This term ‘superpredator’ dehumanizes our children.”

This video from the USA says about itself:

Black Lives Matter vs. the LAPD: Are the Police Unfairly Targeting & Surveilling the Movement?

11 April 2016

Prosecutors in Los Angeles are determining whether to retry six Black Lives Matter activists whose trial recently ended in a hung jury. The six face misdemeanor charges for barricading the 101 freeway in Los Angeles in November 2014. That action was in response to the non-indictment of former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown three months earlier.

Activist Rosa Clemente was also tried but was acquitted. Supporters say the prosecution is part of a larger effort by the LAPD and City Attorney’s Office targeting Black Lives Matter activists in Los Angeles. Melina Abdullah, an organizer with Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, describes how many protesters facing charges were under surveillance and how some had letters sent to their homes from the LAPD and the U.S. Justice Department. Abdullah is professor and chair of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. We also speak with Nana Gyamfi, a criminal defense and human rights attorney who represents Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles.

Los Angeles, USA methane leak scandal continues


This video says about itself:

Porter Ranch gas leak: Residents build cases against CA Gas Company

25 January 2016

On the surface, it may be easy to dismiss the locals of Porter Ranch, California, who are complaining of headaches, nose-bleeds and nausea due to the massive methane leak. But these seemingly modest ailments have turned into nightmares for some families. Jim Frantz, of the Frantz Law Group representing more than 1,000 residents, sits with RT’s Manila Chan to discuss how his clients are dealing with the health hazard.

By David Brown in the USA:

Corporate gas leak in California’s Aliso Canyon to continue for months

26 January 2016

This Sunday, state regulators ordered the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) to permanently close the natural gas well responsible for the largest methane leak in US history. The leak began on October 23, 2015, and has continued unabated until now, releasing the equivalent of 2.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and forcing thousands of local families to relocate. The leak is not expected to be stopped until the end of March.

The leak at the SoCalGas Aliso Canyon underground storage facility was caused by the failure of antiquated infrastructure and completely inadequate maintenance and inspection. The leak began last October with a rupture in a well casing, which was drilled in 1959, causing methane to seep up through the soil into the neighboring Porter Ranch, a suburb of Los Angeles. Roughly 4,500 families so far have evacuated the area to avoid the leak.

An aerial survey of the area carried out by UC Davis scientist Stephen Conley showed methane levels of 50 parts per million in November. Conley told the Los Angeles Times “this is probably 20 times bigger than anything else we’ve measured.”

Natural gas which is primarily composed of methane is not considered toxic or dangerous when it is able to dissipate, but some of the chemicals associated with it are. Natural gas is mixed with an odorant to make it smell like rotten eggs to warn people of leaks in their homes. The current large-scale leak is causing some residents to suffer difficulty breathing, dizziness, headaches, nosebleeds and vomiting.

Natural gas, particularly that produced by hydraulic fracturing, can also contain benzene, a toxic carcinogen.

A leak of this size will inevitably have an impact on global warming. Methane is roughly 84 times more effective at trapping energy over a period of 20 years than is carbon dioxide. After 100 years, methane remains 25 times more potent. At its high point in December, the leak rate peaked at 58,000 kg per hour, or the emissions equivalent of about 900 cars driving for a year, every hour.

SoCalGas has played a criminal role in their failure to maintain their facilities and in their delays in dealing with the leak. In 2014, SoCalGas submitted a request to state regulators to raise their rates, ostensibly to pay for comprehensive inspections of 229 storage wells. The report listed 26 of their wells as “high risk” entities that should be abandoned. It is unclear whether the Aliso Canyon well that broke was one of those.

It is clear is that SoCalGas knew of significant risks in their equipment and, rather than fix them, tried to use them to blackmail workers into paying higher rates. SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy which made $1.2 billion in profit in 2014. The amount the company sought in increased rates over the next six years was $180 million, about 2.5 percent of their expected yearly profits.

Despite knowing that their well lacked many modern safety features, like a shutoff valve at the base, SoCalGas continued to cut corners and use the injection well in a risky manner. Most wells consist of a metal casing surrounding a narrower metal tube, and SoCalGas was using the casing itself to inject natural gas, not just the internal tube, raising the risk of a leak.

After the leak was initially discovered on October 23, SoCalGas denied its existence to the public until five days later and did not start drilling a relief well until December 4, six weeks after the leak began. Instead they made six attempts in November to block the well with mud and brine which failed and may have actually increased the leak rate. The first relief well is expected to be finished by February 24, with a second well planned, eventually allowing the leaking well to be capped by the end of March.

This is not the first disaster coming from California’s natural gas infrastructure. In 2010 pipes owned by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) exploded in San Bruno, killing eight people, injuring 60 and destroying or damaging 161 homes. For years before the 2010 disaster, PG&E demanded and received rate hikes in 2007 and 2009 to pay for maintenance, yet long stretches of antiquated pipes in residential areas were left untouched, leading to the explosion.

More recently, PG&E received $2.37 billion in rate hikes spread out over three years from state regulators last August to pay for “maintenance.” PG&E’s profit in 2014 was nearly $2 billion dollars, and there is no reason to believe that this new profit will be used for maintenance any more than their current profit is.

The government response to these companies’ reckless threats and negligence has been complete acquiescence. Rate hikes are approved for companies already making large profits, infrastructure is left uninspected, and when it does collapse, government fines are barely even a slap on the wrist. Under current laws, SoCalGas faces a maximum fine of $25,000 for the Aliso Canyon leak.

TRUMP TO ROLL BACK METHANE REGULATIONS The Trump administration is preparing to make it easier for energy companies to release methane into the atmosphere — a significant rollback of federal efforts to combat climate change. [HuffPost]

EPA TO ROLL BACK METHANE REGULATIONS The Trump administration is set to announce on Thursday that it intends to sharply curtail the regulation of methane emissions, a major contributor to climate change, according to an industry official with knowledge of the plan. [New York Times]

The Trump administration announced a plan Thursday to remove federal requirements for the oil and gas industry to control emissions of methane, the primary component of natural gas and a potent contributor to climate change. The move continues Trump’s reversal of climate policies enacted by the Obama administration, eliminating even the most minimal measures to address the unfolding climate catastrophe: here.

California landfills are belching high levels of climate-warming methane. Airborne remote sensing spots the Golden State’s biggest emitters of the gas from the sky: here.

A U.S. oil-producing region is leaking twice as much methane as once thought. Satellite measurements identify the Permian Basin, a massive U.S. oil- and gas-producing area, as a large source of leaked methane to the atmosphere. By Carolyn Gramling, April 22, 2020.

Los Angeles, USA methane pollution scandal continues


This video from Los Angeles in the USA says about itself:

New Infrared Footage Shows Methane Spewing From Porter Ranch Gas Leak

28 December 2015

The description for the video says the methane plumes were made visible by a “specialized infrared camera operated by an Earthworks ITC-certified thermographer.” Rebecca Ferriter reports.

From Sourcewatch in the USA:

As of December 31, 2015, a natural gas leak outside of Los Angeles at Porter Ranch, was releasing 110,000 pounds per hour for at least two months. The leak was described as the worst environmental disaster in the United States since the BP oil spill. The seeping gas was being released from a storage facility in Porter Ranch owned and operated by Sempra Energy‘s Southern California Gas, where experts state the leak was being caused by a well casing failure deep underground.[1]

On January 6, 2016 Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Porter Ranch, California because of the gas leak, which has led to thousands of residents leaving their homes.[2] The emergency order increased leak containment efforts and demanded that the well’s owner pay for emissions-reducing projects to offset the disaster. On January 11, 2016, California Senators spearheaded by Sen. Fran Pavley announced a legislative package in response to the leak that, if passed, would enact an emergency moratorium on all operations at the storage facility as well as all operations in the Aliso Canyon Oil Field.[3]

LA Weekly reported the well had not been inspected since 1976. LA Weekly interviewed Rodger Schwecke, a SoCalGas executive who claimed the valve from the leaking well was removed in 1979. The paper reported that valve was not required by state regulations. The safety valve would have been required  at a “critical” well, one within 100 feet of a road or a park, or within 300 feet of a home. But, if in place, it could have been used to stop the leak.[6]

Doctors Sound Alarm as State of Emergency Declared over CA Gas Leak: Leave Now: here.

This video from Los Angeles in the USA says about itself:

New Infrared Video Shows Gas Continues Spread Through Porter Ranch Neighborhood

16 January 2016

Our infrared FLIR GF320 cameras go undercover in Porter Ranch once again to expose the truth about the SoCalGas blowout and the extent to which natural gas fumes have infiltrated the Porter Ranch community. …

The houses and car-lined streets are being pummeled with gusts of natural gas and other contaminants contained within the plume. Moving images at the 10-second mark of the video reveal just how close some of the Porter Ranch homes are to the Aliso Canyon blowout. Using infrared technology for natural gas detection, the magenta color designates traces of natural gas. You can see, at the top of the screen, gas fumes violently spewing from the well. You’ll notice that the plume shooting from the ground, the source of the breach, is the darkest shade, signifying its high concentration of natural gas. The fumes wafting from the source have completely enveloped the area, showing purple hills in infrared where there is, in fact, an abundance of natural gas collecting in the atmosphere.

Are Porter Ranch children safe? The images beginning at 1:14 reveal an empty playground with abandoned swings swaying to and fro with the inertia of methane-tainted wind gusts. The gas clouds roving overhead in the background offset by the Santa Susana Mountain Range illustrate the vast area that the gas plume now covers.

Homes and hills are lined with thick noxious gases that have sent many Porter Ranch residents fleeing in droves. If you, too, are waiting on a resolution or restitution from the SoCalGas blowout, visit http://porterranchlawsuit.com/ today.

Natural gas leaking from old and poorly maintained pipes in the United States is putting trillions of cubic feet of methane, a long-term greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere every year while utility companies profit on it. Leaks in some pipes have existed for decades, with the knowledge of gas distribution companies. Even in parts of the country that are not experiencing mass utility shutoffs, injuries and deaths occur regularly: here.

Los Angeles schools closed, because of German racist’s hoax e-mail?


This video from the USA says about itself:

Los Angeles Schools Closed After Receiving Threat – Newsy

15 December 2015

All Los Angeles Unified School District schools were suddenly closed Tuesday after a possible bomb threat.

From Newsday in New York in the USA:

New York City got same threat as Los Angeles, was hoax, officials say

Updated December 15, 2015 1:19 PM

By Matthew Chayes

New York City authorities opted to keep public schools open Tuesday after receiving a bomb threat apparently identical to the one that led Los Angeles to close down schools there.

Calling the emailed threat a “hoax,” NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said Los Angeles’ decision appeared to be unnecessary.

“I think it was a significant overreaction,” said Bratton, who was chief of the Los Angeles Police Department between 2002 and 2009 before returning to New York to head the NYPD.

Bratton said his investigators believe it’s a hoax for several reasons, such as the first letter of “Allah” being uncapitalized.

From KTVL.com in the USA:

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.-27th District) told CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield that while the email threat was written by someone who claimed to be a Muslim extremist, there were some red flags concerning its credibility.

“In the whole text of the email there is a pornographic reference to a body part that … this person claims to be a devout Muslim, I don’t think that that’s consistent. There is certainly nothing in the text of the email that shows that the person who wrote it has any particular understanding of Islam,” he said. “The second issue is … [the author] claims that he’s got 32 accomplices–that’s way beyond what ISIS or even al-Qaida have been able to put together in any western city.”

The Newsday article continues:

The Los Angeles schools — the second-largest district in the nation after New York City’s — announced a systemwide closure Tuesday after receiving what was termed “a credible threat.”

“It is not credible,” de Blasio said. He added: “Our school system remains fully open.”

De Blasio said NYPD intelligence analysts scrutinized the email: “This was a very generic piece of writing,” he said, and the threatened violence “is not plausible.”

“It’s very important not to overreact in situations like this,” de Blasio said.

Bratton said the email appears to have come from overseas and was received by a superintendent of the city schools.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

Authorities in Los Angeles think the email was sent from an IP address in Germany.

The Los Angeles City school district, the second-largest public school system in the United States, shut down over 1,000 schools early Tuesday morning after school board members received an email threatening an attack on multiple school locations with assault rifles and bombs in backpacks. By the afternoon, the email had been determined to be a hoax. Some 643,000 students were told at the last minute not to show up at school, undoubtedly forcing many thousands of parents to miss work and disrupting the lives of millions in the city: here.

Saudi royal accused of sexual and drug abuse


This 25 September 2015 video from the USA says about itself:

Saudi Prince Majed Abdulaziz Al-Saud Arrested On Sex Crime Charge At L.A. Mansion

From the Tribune in Pakistan:

I am a prince and I do what I want, said drugged-up Saudi royal

October 21, 2015

A Saudi prince, who was arrested last month at his LA mansion, is accused of having a sexual relationship with a male aide,

For homosexuality, you will get the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. Well … you will get it if you are a commoner … I am not so sure about royal family scions. As in Saudi Arabia, like in quite some other countries, there is one law for commoners, and one, other, law for royals and for other elite people.

taking cocaine

For anything to do with drugs, you will get the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. Well … you will get it if you are a poor Pakistani … … I am not so sure about royal family scions. As in Saudi Arabia, as in quite some other countries, there is one law … etc.

and threatening to kill women who refused his advances — as well as sexually assaulting a maid, Daily Mail reported.

Prince Majed bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is now facing a series of allegations in a civil case brought by three female staff members of his Los Angeles mansion.

The staff has accused him of repeatedly making unwanted sexual advances while being drunk and high at his $37 million mansion in Beverly Hills and even forcing them to watch a male aide pleasure him, according to court documents.

The staff claims that the royal threatened to kill one of the women when she refused to ‘party’ with him and jumped on top of another and began rubbing himself against her in a “sexual and aggressive manner”.

He also attempted to urinate on the trio while screaming, “I want to pee pee”. When asked to stop, Al Saud allegedly then yelled, “I am a prince and I do what I want. You are nobody!” Another female staff member has alleged that she was made to watch while a different male aide bent over and broke wind in Al Saud’s face, apparently at his request.

These disclosures about the prince were made after felony charges were dropped against him by Los Angeles District Attorney due to lack of evidence. The case has now been passed to LA city attorney Mike Feur who will decide whether to pursue misdemeanour charges – which could lead to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine should he be convicted.

The women who had been employed by the prince to look after his Wallingford Drive mansion say that they still have not been paid and are hoping to recover their lost earnings. They allege that the 29-year-old prince threw a party on September 21 and arranged for “multiple escorts” to attend. As the evening progressed, he became “increasingly intoxicated” and was seen engaging in “illicit drug abuse”.

The next evening he threw another party where he “continued to engage in heavy drinking, cocaine use and more escorts came to the residence”.

The day after that, he attempted to urinate on the three women but was dragged away by an assistant before he could so. However, he returned ten minutes later and the incident in which he rubbed himself against one of the women occurred. When she attempted to reason with him, saying, “I’m a woman” he screamed, “You’re not a woman, you are a nobody! I’m a prince and I will do what I want and nobody will do anything to me!”

The terrified women, who had often witnessed the prince physically abuse the male staff, hid on a balcony but were told by an aide to get back to work and that they were not supposed to have any breaks. One of them was then told to pour a drink for the prince and was subjected to a violent assault that left her badly bruised. When they attempted to leave, they found that they had been locked in by the aides. It was then that the royal threatened to kill the third woman, telling her, “You are going to go upstairs. I will be there in two minutes and you’ll do whatever I want. If not, then I’ll kill you.” Al Saud then, it is alleged, became even more agitated and began to “scream and make animal like sounds.”

The women managed to escape the house but had to return the next day to collect their personal possessions. The aides assured them that the prince would not bother them again but if they left then they would have to forfeit their wages. They were locked in again and when they next encountered the prince, he was masturbated by another man. Al Saud then ordered them to watch. One of the woman was also asked to “lick my whole body” by Al Saud in exchange for payment and says he became aggressive when she refused.

Finally, police was called when the prince’s girlfriend, who he had earlier accused of having sex with another man in the bathroom of a club the previous evening, and the original complainant were found covered in blood, crying and shaking. Al Saud was then arrested and led away by the LAPD, allegedly screaming, “No news!” at onlookers.

Al Saud has not been seen at his rented $37 million Beverly Glen mansion since his arrest late last month and is thought by neighbours to have fled the country.

Saudi prince arrested on sex crime charge is late King Abdullah‘s son: report here.

Three US women claim sexual assault by Saudi prince in Beverly Hills mansion. The women who were hired as housekeepers in Majed Abdulaziz Al Saud’s home say the prince made sexual advances and harassed them and other staff: here.

US presidential candidate Sanders in Los Angeles


This 2 June 2016 video from the USA is called Sanders slams ‘rigged economy’ ahead of California primaries.

Another video used to say about itself:

Bernie Sanders Speech in Los Angeles: ‘This is an economy that is rigged’

10 August 2015

Thousands turn out for Bernie Sanders in Los Angeles. Thousands of people flooded into the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena Monday night for a chance to see Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders, in a raspy voice, hammered into his standard campaign speech, calling for the need to end income inequality, institutional racism and mass incarceration. “The reason we’re doing so well in this campaign is we’re telling the truth,” he said to chants of “Bernie!” “This is an economy that is rigged and meant to benefit those on top. We need an economy that works for all people,” he said, as attendees stomped their feet on packed bleachers.

“There is no president that will fight harder to end institutional racism,” he said.

Sanders, who has been interrupted on several occasions in other cities by Black Lives Matter demonstrators, allowed the group to open his rally in Los Angeles.

By Eric Gordon in the USA:

Feeling the Bern: How a socialist senator took Los Angeles by storm

Thursday 20th August 2015

Bernie Sanders is reclaiming Republican talk of ‘morals’ to champion universal healthcare and pay equality, explains ERIC GORDON

IMAGINE batting practice in which every single hit is a home run.

That’s what it felt like on August 10 at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in downtown Los Angeles. Independent Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders, now a candidate for the 2016 Democratic Party presidential nomination, drew 27,500 wildly enthusiastic listeners, both in the arena and in the overflow crowd.

Each point he made drew a storm of applause, cheers and chants.

I remember when I was a teenager meeting Virginia Epstein — in her 90s, blind and in a wheelchair — who mesmerised me with her recollection of hearing socialist leader Eugene V Debs at Union Square a century ago. She pointed a finger into the air, as Debs did, and transported me into history.

Sanders’s campaign is also making history: record crowds and record support while still a year out from the nominating convention — and all for a guy who says he’ll refuse all corporate cash. This is a people’s campaign.

Before Bernie came out on stage, several speakers addressed the crowd. First up, the campaign’s national press secretary Symone Sanders (no relation), a young, black criminal justice advocate and national youth chair of the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, who right off the bat referred to the one-year anniversary of Ferguson, and said a lot more work has to be done in this country to truly make black lives matter. We need someone in office, she said, “who will turn those words into action.”

The next speakers came from the environmental, immigrant rights, labour and healthcare rights movements, and the actress-comedian Sarah Silverman, who played an important media role in the Obama campaign in 2008. She told the crowd that we need to take back such words as “morals” and “values” from the right. “Bernie is not for sale,” Silverman said to deafening applause. “That is so neat.”

“Working people matter,” said Donte Harris, president of the Communications Workers of America flight attendants unit in Los Angeles. “Corporations are not people, we are people, and there is only one candidate who can’t be bought.”

All these speakers reflected the constituencies for major components of Senator Sanders’s campaign.

Sanders stood in his shirtsleeves and spoke for an hour hitting point after point, each one with a short exposition of the facts, and then a resounding commitment to make his a transformative presidency. But he reminded his followers: “I will need your help the day after the election as well … No one person can do this alone.

“This campaign is not a billionaire-funded campaign — it is a people’s campaign (with) more individual contributions than any other campaign.

“No president will fight to end institutional racism as I will,” said the candidate who 50 years ago as a college student went south to work in the civil rights movement. “I will push harder for fundamental change in our criminal justice system.”

Sanders spoke of the outrageous income and wealth inequality that has grown in the US over the past 40 years, with the top dozen or so wealthy individuals controlling as much as the bottom half of the whole population. He called it “the great moral issue of our time. This country belongs to all of us and not a handful of billionaires … We need a grassroots political revolution about transforming the United States of America.” The T-shirts many in the audience wore showed their allegiance to that revolution.

“We have a message to the billionaire class,” Sanders told his audience. “You can’t have it all.”

He spoke at length about the true extent of unemployment. The official figures are deceptive. They do not include those who have given up looking, and all those who are working part-time when they’d like to be working full-time. Among youths the unemployment numbers are frightening: for whites 33 per cent, Latinos 36 per cent and for black US citizens, 51 per cent.

Unemployment is closely related to the numbers of people in prison. “It makes a lot more sense to be investing in education and jobs than incarceration and jail,” said Sanders, who has clearly absorbed the lessons of Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow.

Other points Sanders hit on to drive home his true “family values” agenda include pay equity for women, women’s right to control their own bodies and the right to acquire contraceptives, the defence of same-sex marriage, paid medical leave, 12 weeks of paid family leave after the birth of a child, paid sick leave, at least two weeks’ paid vacation, free state college and university tuition and a massive federal jobs programme to put people to work fixing the crumbling infrastructure.

Sanders stands unequivocally for a Medicare for all single-payer healthcare system that will finally cover every person in the US as a right and not a privilege.

He also criticised TTIP and Wall Street greed, recklessness and arrogance. “The kid who smokes marijuana gets an arrest record,”

or gets a death penalty by cop without any trial

he reminded us, “while the CEO who destroyed the economy gets away with it.” “Restore Glass-Steagall!” he thundered, referring to the now defunct Act which regulated banks.

He is not profligate with campaign promises, but when he becomes president, he said, he will provide a litmus test for all Supreme Court nominees: They must vote to overturn Citizens United, the disastrous Supreme Court decision that essentially handed over the US political process to the billionaires.

And as for the court’s decision two years ago on the Voting Rights Act, which reopened the door to widespread voter suppression targetting people of colour, older and younger voters and students, he recalled a little of his own history, having both lost and won elections: “It never occurred to me that the way to win an election was to deny people the right to vote.” Those who do that today, he said, “are nothing more than cowards.”

Let us have, instead, automatic voter registration as soon as you turn 18. And let us “bring 11 million undocumented people out of the shadows,” people who are exploited and living in fear, without legal rights. Let us pass comprehensive migration reform and create a path toward citizenship.

On issues of international war and peace he showed profound annoyance with his Republican colleagues who are always moaning about the budget. “How can they forget about the cost of war?” he asked, citing figures of soldiers coming back dead, maimed and traumatised from futile wars in the Middle East.

Iran? By all means work to keep nuclear weapons away from further proliferation there, but “we have to do everything we possibly can without another war. War has to be the last recourse, not the first.

“When we stand together,” he opined “there is nothing, nothing, nothing we cannot accomplish.

“The reason we are doing well in this campaign is because we are telling the truth.”

This article first appeared at peoplesworld.org.

From Symone Sanders’ Twitter account today:

Sanders rally in Charleston this weekend is being moved from Burke H[igh] S[chool] to the Charleston Convention Center—looks like another big crowd.

This move to a bigger venue is about the Saturday 22 August Charleston rally.

USA: Here’s why denouncing or defending the 14th Amendment is the GOP’s litmus test: talkingpointsmemo.com]