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Daring Aerial Blockade Halts Tar Sands Pipeline Construction in Michigan

Energy

Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands

Today, Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI-CATS) took direct action in the Crane Pond State Game Area to halt expansion of Canadian corporation Enbridge Energy’s tar sands pipeline 6B. Enbridge’s claim that they have restored the Kalamazoo River after the 2010 spill holds no merit, nor does it justify expanding the pipeline. Tar sands cannot be cleaned up; this material is thick and heavy, it sinks in water and clings to surfaces. Expanding the pipeline increases the risk of another disaster for all of life and future generations.

A Kalamazoo River Basin resident sits high up in the canopy to halt the construction of Enbridge Line 6B.

A resident who lives within the Kalamazoo River Basin climbed into the trees early this morning and is occupying a platform suspended by a rope traverse. Spanning a portion of where construction is taking place, the rope traverse is the sole line that holds the platform up in the air. If it were cut and/or tampered with by police or workers, the resident could fall from the tree resulting in serious injury, possibly even death.

“Tar sands pipeline 6B is pumping a dangerous concoction which fuels global capitalism. This pipeline is Canada’s promise that industrialized capitalism will continue to exploit and oppress the people of the world and the environment. Capitalism guarantees the continued destruction of the natural world," stated representatives of the MI-CATS.

"It enables the ruling class to exploit the world’s resources and force the rest of the population to labor for the ruling classes profits. Additionally, we are way beyond the verge of climate crisis. It is of utmost importance that carbon emissions stop immediately," emphasized MI-CATS representatives. "Tar sands infrastructure is one example of industries at the root of the oil addiction. By taking action at the root of the problem, we endeavor to stop the symptoms of the problem. If we halt all carbon emissions into the atmosphere and remember how to live in harmony with the earth, there might be hope for life as we humans have known it for a few hundred thousand years.”

MI-CATS asserts that direct action tactics, including civil disobedience, are now necessary as Enbridge’s dominant presence in our bio-region has allowed no room for any constructive alternatives. After three long years of blatant lies and omissions, Enbridge has the audacity to triple the capacity of the same pipeline that poured an ecologically abrasive sludge into the Kalamazoo River. This catastrophe was the largest inland oil spill this continent has ever experienced. While the Kalamazoo spill was the largest, it is one of many devastations brought on by Enbridge. Enbridge’s insidious business practices caused more than 800 pipeline spills between 1999 and 2010; that is more than one tar sands spill a week.

Enbridge places profit before our families, the ecosystem, our grandmothers, our dogs, like Smokey [a pet who died as a result of the 2010 tar sands spill], our grandchildren and the future of life on this planet. The continuation of tar sands transportation through pipelines like Line 6B risk more than just our own backyards; everything in the industry’s wake is left defiled and in squalor. Our actions against Enbridge won’t stop until Enbridge stops participating in the resource extraction industry. We stand in solidarity with all first peoples’ whose lands were forcibly taken from them, Idle No More, Fearless Summer, those working to end corporate personhood, all the species going extinct, those sick and dying thanks to the extraction industry and all folks fighting oppression in order to live full and happy lives.

UPDATE:

The resident is out of the tree, stopped work for the entire day, and is not arrested!  Success!

UPDATE:
2:30 p.m.
Cass County Sheriff's Office released an official statement on the ongoing action:

Sheriff Joseph M. Underwood Jr. reports that his office was contacted by Enbridge to report that there were possible protesters on the right of way of the pipeline project. The location of the is on Patterson Hill Rd south of Huffman St. in Newburg Township, Cass County, MI. Deputies were sent to the location to find a subject approx. 60 feet up in a tree. The subject is involved in a peaceful protest. Deputies on scene are maintaining dialog to have a peaceful and safe conclusion to the protest. The call came in to Cass County 911 at 0818hrs. The Cass County Sheriff's Office is being assisted at the scene by Michigan State Police, Pokagon Tribal Police and Newburg Ambulance Service. All remain on scene.

UPDATE:
1:55 p.m.
Detective Daly has delivered a signed letter to Felix promising that if they come down from the trees by 5 p.m. they will not be arrested.

UPDATE:
12:37 p.m.
Detective Kristen Daly, from Cass County Sherif Department told Felix that she has spoken with the local prosecuting attorney and representatives from Enbridge. She claims that they have agreed that if the protestor comes down from the tree by 5 p.m., they will let them go without any charges. When Felix asked how they can be guaranteed she would keep her word, Kristen responded “you’ll just have to trust me.” 

UPDATE:
12:05 p.m.
Detectives on scene, trying to figure out how the tree sit works. They could be heard stating loudly “We’ve never seen this s### before.” protestor is in high spirits!

UPDATE:
10:40 a.m.
Police had intended to tie life-line off to two backhoes. After some uncertainty, both pieces of equipment drove off without attempting it.

UPDATE:
10:04 a.m.
Police have threatened to taze the protestor and use dogs to attack folks on the ground supporting them. Please call the Cass County Sheriff's Department and let them know people are watching. (269) 445-8644.

UPDATE:
9:28 a.m.
Police officer throws large log up at protestor.

UPDATE:
9:20 a.m.
After turning back workers and their equipment for the last several hours, police have arrived on scene and threatened to cut protestor’s life-line.

Visit EcoWatch’s TAR SANDS page for more related news on this topic.

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The patient in the case report (let's call him Tom) was 54 and in good health. For two days in May, he felt unwell and was too weak to get out of bed. When his family finally brought him to the hospital, doctors found that he had a fever and signs of a severe infection, or sepsis. He tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection. In addition to symptoms of COVID-19, he was also too weak to move his legs.

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We are neurologists specializing in intensive care and leading studies related to neurological complications from COVID-19. Given the occurrence of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in prior pandemics with other corona viruses like SARS and MERS, we are investigating a possible link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and COVID-19 and tracking published reports to see if there is any link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and COVID-19.

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What Is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

Guillain-Barre syndrome occurs when the body's own immune system attacks and injures the nerves outside of the spinal cord or brain – the peripheral nervous system. Most commonly, the injury involves the protective sheath, or myelin, that wraps nerves and is essential to nerve function.

Without the myelin sheath, signals that go through a nerve are slowed or lost, which causes the nerve to malfunction.

To diagnose Guillain-Barre Syndrome, neurologists perform a detailed neurological exam. Due to the nerve injury, patients often may have loss of reflexes on examination. Doctors often need to perform a lumbar puncture, otherwise known as spinal tap, to sample spinal fluid and look for signs of inflammation and abnormal antibodies.

Studies have shown that giving patients an infusion of antibodies derived from donated blood or plasma exchange – a process that cleans patients' blood of harmful antibodies - can speed up recovery. A very small subset of patients may need these therapies long-term.

The majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients improve within a few weeks and eventually can make a full recovery. However, some patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome have lingering symptoms including weakness and abnormal sensations in arms and/or legs; rarely patients may be bedridden or disabled long-term.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome and Pandemics

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, many neurologic specialists have been on the lookout for potentially serious nervous system complications such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Though Guillain-Barre Syndrome is rare, it is well known to emerge following bacterial infections, such as Campylobacter jejuni, a common cause of food poisoning, and a multitude of viral infections including the flu virus, Zika virus and other coronaviruses.

Studies showed an increase in Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases following the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, suggesting a possible connection. The presumed cause for this link is that the body's own immune response to fight the infection turns on itself and attacks the peripheral nerves. This is called an "autoimmune" condition. When a pandemic affects as many people as our current COVID-19 crisis, even a rare complication can become a significant public health problem. That is especially true for one that causes neurological dysfunction where the recovery takes a long time and may be incomplete.

The first reports of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in COVID-19 pandemic originated from Italy, Spain and China, where the pandemic surged before the U.S. crisis.

Though there is clear clinical suspicion that COVID-19 can lead to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, many important questions remain. What are the chances that someone gets Guillain-Barre Syndrome during or following a COVID-19 infection? Does Guillain-Barre Syndrome happen more often in those who have been infected with COVID-19 compared to other types of infections, such as the flu?

The only way to get answers is through a prospective study where doctors perform systematic surveillance and collect data on a large group of patients. There are ongoing large research consortia hard at work to figure out answers to these questions.

Understanding the Association Between COVID-19 and Guillain-Barre Syndrome

While large research studies are underway, overall it appears that Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare but serious phenomenon possibly linked to COVID-19. Given that more than 10.7 million cases have been reported for COVID-19, there have been 10 reported cases of COVID-19 patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome so far – only two reported cases in the U.S., five in Italy, two cases in Iran and one from Wuhan, China.

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Due to the pandemic and infection-containment considerations, diagnostic tests, such as a nerve conduction study that used to be routine for patients with suspected Guillain-Barre Syndrome, are more difficult to do. In both U.S. cases, the initial diagnosis and treatment were all based on clinical examination by a neurological experts rather than any tests. Both patients survived but with significant residual weakness at the time these case reports came out, but that is not uncommon for Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients. The road to recovery may sometimes be long, but many patients can make a full recovery with time.

Though the reported cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome so far all have severe symptoms, this is not uncommon in a pandemic situation where the less sick patients may stay home and not present for medical care for fear of being exposed to the virus. This, plus the limited COVID-19 testing capability across the U.S., may skew our current detection of Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases toward the sicker patients who have to go to a hospital. In general, the majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients do recover, given enough time. We do not yet know whether this is true for COVID-19-related cases at this stage of the pandemic. We and colleagues around the world are working around the clock to find answers to these critical questions.

Sherry H-Y. Chou is an Associate Professor of Critical Care Medicine, Neurology, and Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh.

Aarti Sarwal is an Associate Professor, Neurology, Wake Forest University.

Neha S. Dangayach is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Disclosure statement: Sherry H-Y. Chou receives funding from The University of Pittsburgh Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the National Institute of Health, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Dean's Faculty Advancement Award. Sherry H-Y. Chou is a member of Board of Directors for the Neurocritical Care Society. Neha S. Dangayach receives funding from the Bee Foundation, the Friedman Brain Institute, the Neurocritical Care Society, InCHIP-UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media Seed Grant. She is faculty for emcrit.org and for AiSinai. Aarti Sarwal does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Reposted with permission from The Conversation.


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"We've moved the needle a lot, especially on environmental justice and upping Biden's ambition," said Sunrise Movement co-founder and executive director Varshini Prakash, a member of the Biden-Sanders Climate Task Force. "But there's still more work to do to push Democrats to act at the scale of the climate crisis."

The climate panel—co-chaired by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and former Secretary of State John Kerry—recommended that the Democratic Party commit to "eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035," massively expanding investments in clean energy sources, and "achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for all new buildings by 2030."

In a series of tweets Wednesday night, Ocasio-Cortez—the lead sponsor of the House Green New Deal resolution—noted that the Climate Task Force "shaved 15 years off Biden's previous target for 100% clean energy."

"Of course, like in any collaborative effort, there are areas of negotiation and compromise," said the New York Democrat. "But I do believe that the Climate Task Force effort meaningfully and substantively improved Biden's positions."

 

The 110 pages of policy recommendations from the six eight-person Unity Task Forces on education, the economy, criminal justice, immigration, climate change, and healthcare are aimed at shaping negotiations over the 2020 Democratic platform at the party's convention next month.

Sanders said that while the "end result isn't what I or my supporters would've written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families throughout our country."

"I look forward to working with Vice President Biden to help him win this campaign," the Vermont senator added, "and to move this country forward toward economic, racial, social, and environmental justice."

Biden, for his part, applauded the task forces "for helping build a bold, transformative platform for our party and for our country."

"I am deeply grateful to Bernie Sanders for working with us to unite our party and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come," said the former vice president.

On the life-or-death matter of reforming America's dysfunctional private health insurance system—a subject on which Sanders and Biden clashed repeatedly throughout the Democratic primary process—the Unity Task Force affirmed healthcare as "a right" but did not embrace Medicare for All, the signature policy plank of the Vermont senator's presidential bid.

Instead, the panel recommended building on the Affordable Care Act by establishing a public option, investing in community health centers, and lowering prescription drug costs by allowing the federal government to negotiate prices. The task force also endorsed making all Covid-19 testing, treatments, and potential vaccines free and expanding Medicaid for the duration of the pandemic.

"It has always been a crisis that tens of millions of Americans have no or inadequate health insurance—but in a pandemic, it's potentially catastrophic for public health," the task force wrote.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a former Michigan gubernatorial candidate and Sanders-appointed member of the Healthcare Task Force, said that despite major disagreements, the panel "came to recommendations that will yield one of the most progressive Democratic campaign platforms in history—though we have further yet to go."

 

Observers and advocacy groups also applauded the Unity Task Forces for recommending the creation of a postal banking system, endorsing a ban on for-profit charter schools, ending the use of private prisons, and imposing a 100-day moratorium on deportations "while conducting a full-scale study on current practices to develop recommendations for transforming enforcement policies and practices at ICE and CBP."

Marisa Franco, director of immigrant rights group Mijente, said in a statement that "going into these task force negotiations, we knew we were going to have to push Biden past his comfort zone, both to reconcile with past offenses and to carve a new path forward."

"That is exactly what we did, unapologetically," said Franco, a member of the Immigration Task Force. "For years, Mijente, along with the broader immigrant rights movement, has fought to reshape the narrative around immigration towards racial justice and to focus these very demands. We expect Biden and the Democratic Party to implement them in their entirety."

"There is no going back," Franco added. "Not an inch, not a step. We must only move forward from here."

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.