Marcia G. Yerman

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NARAL Pro-Choice Leadership Plays the Gender Card

NARAL Pro-Choice Leadership Plays the Gender Card

The threat to reproductive rights goes far beyond the Roe v. Wade ruling. It is a constant war of attrition for those in the anti-choice movement, who are continually working to devise new approaches that will impact the playing field.

June 11, 2016 | No comment | Read More »

“Time To Choose”

“Time To Choose”

Estimates predict that by 2050 we will have reached the tipping point. Ferguson drives home the theme that the “next six to 10 years are crucial.”

June 28, 2016 | No comment | Read More »

Lauren Zapf: Changing the Dialogue For Women Vets

Lauren Zapf: Changing the Dialogue For Women Vets

Female vets must be recognized as contributing members of society, with valuable abilities and talents to bring into their communities.

November 12, 2015 | No comment | Read More »

“Time To Choose”

“Time To Choose”

Estimates predict that by 2050 we will have reached the tipping point. Ferguson drives home the theme that the “next six to 10 years are crucial.”

June 28, 2016 | No comment | Read More »


“Time To Choose”

TimeToChoose_Poster_FINALIn the new documentary Time To Choose, director Charles Ferguson posits that there is a way to change the trajectory of climate change. The tools for arresting a dismal future are already in play, being pushed forward by innovators and thinkers who recognize the pressing need.

For me, the biggest take away from the information-packed narrative, was the unvarnished greed of a select few. Their agenda keeps the majority mired in poverty, lacking energy equity, and sick with chemically induced illnesses.

The movie is predicated on a breakdown of the prime engines of climate change:

  • Burning Coal, Oil, and Natural Gas
  • Urban Sprawl
  • Deforestation and Industrial Agriculture.

Even novices to the subject of climate disruption are aware that the earth’s temperature has risen, due to the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The frequency and intensity of hurricanes, droughts, and heat waves are part of the story. Supplies of fresh water are in danger, as are coral reefs and ocean life. Global sea levels have risen eight inches. If the ice sheets of Greenland totally melt, sea levels will rise twenty-three feet — with cities from New York to Tokyo being submerged.

Estimates predict that by 2050 we will have reached the tipping point. Ferguson drives home the theme that the “next six to 10 years are crucial.”

Two-thirds of global warming is the result of burning fossil fuels. A shift to renewables is essential, leaving untapped fuels in the earth.

As California Gov. Jerry Brown points out, “There will be a lot of adversaries.”

Fossil fuel oligarchs, in America and abroad, have not accepted the premise. The energy industry expended $650 billion in 2013 for “exploration to identify new reserves.” Currently, the annual global revenue of the six largest oil corporations amounts to $2 trillion. (The film extended invitations to company titans for interviews, but no one responded.)

Ferguson traveled to five continents to tell the stories of how average people are impacted.

Goldman Prize winner, Maria Gunnoe, who has been fighting the coal industry in West Virginia, is interviewed about the deadly consequences of mountaintop coal mining in Boone County. First a mountain is deforested and then it is detonated — spewing lead, mercury, and arsenic into the air. Over five hundred mountains in Appalachia have been destroyed this way, with a million acres leveled. Pockets of bronchus and lung cancers, as well as brain tumors have been evidenced. In addition to local streams becoming polluted, Appalachia is the source for headwaters serving the eastern United States.

In America, coal kills tens of thousands of people. In Asia, it kills millions of people. Coal serves as the primary source of China’s energy. They consume the same amount as the rest of the world, combined. Like those who live in Appalachia, rural workers are poor. They have little resources or protections against those with political power, often corrupt officials who ensure that mining deaths go unreported. Those who work in underground Chinese mines have life spans of 49 years old, ten years less than surface coal miners and twenty-six years less than the average Chinese citizen.

Yet, China is a top innovator in the renewable energy production of solar panels. Electric vehicles are also being rolled out in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. It’s predicted that by 2025, electric cars will be both competitive and cheaper to operate.

Nobel Prize winner in Physics and previous U.S.  Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, emphasizes that the cost of renewable energy is dropping and is poised to become the low-cost option. Lyndon Rive, co-founder of SolarCity, sees solar as the route to “disrupt” climate change.

While solar and wind are growing rapidly in Europe, there are over a billion people around the world who have never accessed electricity. Kumi Naidoo, of Greenpeace International, is on hand to connect the dots between the lack of electricity — and global poverty, education deficits, and climate change. Pointing to Kenya, he references the use of solar power in that country as “revolutionary.”

A look at how Nigeria became a “centralized petrostate” is particularly unsettling. Chevron and Shell, among others, have exploited the Niger Delta; the country became rife with corruption and inequality as “85 percent of the government revenues were dominated by crude oil.” Environment lawyer and activist, Oronto Douglas, speaks about a “deeply unequal society,” built on violence and environmental destruction, alongside widespread poverty. Since 1960, Nigerian oil revenues have hit the $600 billion mark. Douglas notes, “90 percent of of these dollars went to 1 percent of the population.”


Architect and Urban Designer, Peter Calthorpe, has been working on sustainable urban development since 1976. “The energy the planet needs is defined by how we live,” he states. He asks rhetorically if we will design sustainable cities, or continue with “high density sprawl?”

Reevaluating how we eat and use land and natural resources cannot be overlooked. Growing grain to feed livestock for meat now takes up 30 percent of the earth’s land. Deforestation in the Amazon has led to Brazil suffering water shortages. Indonesian forests are being destroyed to make way for oil palm plantations — displacing animals and exploiting local labor for less than 4 dollars a day.

Dr. Jane Goodall exclaims, “It’s pretty shocking when you think of the vast destruction of the forests.”

Founder of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, Ian Singleton, sums it up succinctly. “The battle is not to just save orangutans. It’s a battle to save everything.” In Singleton’s view, it’s the forests, animal species, and indigenous communities vs. the “bank accounts of the super-rich.”

Citizens of the world will have to decide if they have the moral will to push back against entrenched powers and mindsets, while rethinking their own personal life styles.

Contact Your Governor to Protect the Clean Power Plan from Big-Money Polluters!

Photos: Courtesy of Time To Choose

This article originally appeared on the website Moms Clean Air Force

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Jun 28, 2016 | No comment | Read More »

The Grand Canyon Meets the Koch Brothers

Grand Canyon Uranium opednews(c)BlakeMcCord

Damage from Mining within the Grand Canyon. Photo: Courtesy of Blake McCord

As summer approaches and American families plan vacations, one of the top spots for travel consideration is the majestic Grand Canyon.

President Teddy Roosevelt, considered the “conservationist” president, declared the Grand Canyon a monument in 1908. It  was made a national park in 1919 by the National Park Service, which was established in 1916.

Roosevelt had a clear understanding of the importance of preserving America’s resources — and the actions of those who would despoil them for monetary gain. He signed the Antiquities Act of 1906. The goal was to create a tool that would allow future presidents to protect the country’s historical and natural sites.

Now, calls are out to President Obama to make the “greater” Grand Canyon a national monument. This would encompass approximately 1.7 million acres of public lands surrounding the park.

Why? It is a response to potential encroachment on the gateway to the Grand Canyon.

Unsurprisingly, the issue at hand involves revenue, big power brokers, ramifications of Citizens United, and a familiar actor in the anti-environmental space — the Koch Brothers.

The debate is about mining, which has been a source of contention for over a century, when land claims were first staked. Older mines that were “validated” went forth. One of those, Canyon Mine, is located six miles south of the Grand Canyon.

Many of the original owners of mining claims shifted their land over to tourist properties. However, there are approximately 3,000 “unvalidated” claims currently on hold under a temporary 20-year ban issued by the Secretary of the Interior in 2012. The impetus was to protect lands from “imminent threat.”

Now, with Obama leaving office, the struggle to get permanent protection has intensified.

Environmentalists and Indigenous groups (The lands of the Havasupai Tribe lands border the Grand Canyon. They are specifically concerned about water radiation and contamination.) are pitted against various politicians, the National Mining Association, and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce Foundation. The latter all have ties to Koch Brothers funding.

Havasupai Families Protest at Canyon Uranium Mine. Havasupai Families Protest at Canyon Uranium Mine. Photo: Courtesy of Roger Clark

As a precursor of what could possibly be in store, it must be noted that there was a superfund site on the southern rim of the Grand Canyon.

Mining not only scars the earth, it disturbs the ecosystem of the canyon. It threatens the tourism industry ($700 million), releases toxic chemicals into the air (uranium dust can cause lung cancer), and puts water supplies in danger.

Those who are against a permanent ban on uranium mining at the Grand Canyon gateway make up an unsavory stew. At the state level, the same players who support suing the EPA over the Clean Power Plan, are part of the mix. The groups supporting uranium mining — and against giving the Grand Canyon and its environs full protection — use the Kochian Newspeak of “limited government” and “federal overreach.”

Greg Zimmerman, Policy Director at the Center for Western Priorities, co-authored an article with a very succinct drill down on the money trail.

I asked Zimmerman for his thoughts. He wrote via e-mail:

“These efforts are being driven by wealthy, ultra-conservative industrialists who are committed to rolling back over a century of land protections across the American West, including at the Grand Canyon. Mining at the gateway of the Grand Canyon remains incredibly unpopular among Arizonans and Americans alike, but it’s not stopping these individuals from undermining our outdoor legacy.”

A poll of Arizona residents who expect to vote in November 2016 confirmed Zimmerman’s assertion of support for monument status. The numbers showed that statewide, 80 percent favored the establishment of the Greater Grand Canyon National Heritage Monument. When asked if a candidate’s stance on the issue would impact their choice, they answered in the affirmative by a “three times as likely” ratio.

David Metz, who worked on the project told me:

“Data doesn’t get much clearer than this.  Survey after survey shows overwhelming support among Arizona voters for a national monument near the Grand Canyon. Arizonans understand it, want it, and they are ready to back members of Congress who will work to make it a reality.”

Rep. Raúl Grijalva, of Arizona’s 3rd District, has been on the case since 2008. In November 2015, Grijalva introduced the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument Act (H.R.3882). It is currently languishing in the Subcommittee on Federal Lands.

Program Director of the Grand Canyon Trust, Roger Clark, speaks with passion about how the Grand Canyon’s future hangs in the balance. On the phone he underscored the point, “The Grand Canyon has
always been sought after for monetary gain. Yet, it’s inconceivable that profiteers would spend so much
money to undermine one of our nation’s greatest treasures.”

The conversation ended with Clark’s observation, “Citizens everywhere must rally! The barbarians are at the gate.”

As the Koch Brothers undermine protections at the Grand Canyon, let’s remember what our children are at risk of losing.

“The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison…Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is…You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see.” ~ President Theodore Roosevelt


Tell Your Governor: Protect Children from Climate Pollution

This story originally appeared on the website Moms Clean Air Force

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Jun 13, 2016 | No comment | Read More »

NARAL Pro-Choice Leadership Plays the Gender Card

When Donald Trump opened his mouth and announced that Hillary Clinton was “playing the woman card” in her quest for the presidency, he unleashed plenty of reaction.

Tubman 5" x 2"NARAL Pro-Choice America saw the slam as an opportunity to put together a deck called the Gender Cards. The set applauds the achievements of American women, from the Suffragettes to the founders of #BlackLivesMatter. Writers, artists, athletes and activists are included, along with the four women who have served on the Supreme Court and Harriet Tubman. Hillary Clinton is the Ace of Hearts.

The two Joker cards are Mindy Kaling and the duo of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. However, it goes without saying that the 2016 election, from the top of the ticket on down, is no laughing matter.

Trump has stated that women should be punished for having an abortion (which he sort of walked back), and has been definitive about appointing a “pro-life” justice to the Supreme Court who is committed to invalidating Roe v. Wade.

The threat to reproductive rights goes far beyond the Roe v. Wade ruling. It is a constant war of attrition for those in the anti-choice movement, who are continually working to devise new approaches that will impact the playing field.

More than eight-hundred laws, which chip away at access to abortion, have been passed in individual states over the past ten years. They particularly impact those who are young, low-income, and women of color.

NARAL has made it a point to call out elected reps who are getting a pass. A prime example is their push to make the voters of New Hampshire (who overwhelming believe that a women’s access to abortion should not be restricted by the government) aware of Sen. Kelly Ayotte’s repeated activities to put limitations on reproductive rights and to defund Planned Parenthood. Ayotte is also one of the senators refusing to consider the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland — until after the election — which will impact all cases heard.

I contacted Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL, to get her thoughts on the latest infringement on abortion rights in Oklahoma — where the legislature passed a bill to take away the medical licenses of doctors who perform abortions (which Governor Mary Fallin subsequently vetoed). I also wanted to hear her thoughts on this wacky, and scary, presidential election.

She responded via e-mail with these comments:

“Attempting to punish doctors who provide abortion care is not a new strategy, but it is dangerous. As more pragmatic anti-choice extremists are forced to acknowledge that attempts to directly ban abortion are a dead end, they have found greater success in deceptive efforts to cut off access to abortion care. One of the most damaging ways they do this by going after doctors, making them targets of anti-choice violence and bullying them out of providing care. History shows us that just because abortion is illegal or inaccessible, women do not stop seeking that care. We talk about back-alley abortion as if it’s a pre-Roe relic, but women in hostile areas of the country without real access to abortion care will tell you that’s not the case.

2016 will go down as a turning point for our nation, and as women, our collective destiny hangs in the balance. On one hand, this year is yet another where historic numbers of bills have passed through state houses limiting our freedom to make our own decisions about abortion care and contraception, while we have witnessed the sexist rhetoric in the presidential race reach an all time low.  Both houses of Congress have held bogus hearings motivated by universally discredited videos and junk science. We’ve seen arguments in cases at the Supreme Court that will determine the future of abortion and contraception access in this country.

On the other hand, we have a vibrant and energetic movement making policies like paid parental leave and equal pay a political reality. We stand on the cusp of electing our first female President whose vision and hard work has broken barriers and expanded what’s possible and whose interests are served in our country. Hillary stands among a long line of women — known and unknown, sung and unsung — who have, are, and will continue to make America great again and again.”

Hogue ended with a thought that was part warning and part promise:

“The only question that remains to be seen is which future we choose: one that is grounded in fear and trades in disdain for women — or one where all Americans have the promise of equal opportunity and the freedom to live full lives.”

Justices 5h

This article originally appeared on the website Ravishly.








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