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Lou Andreas-Salomé, The Audacity to be Free

Lou Andreas-Salomé, The Audacity to be Free

Reminiscent of two big movies of the late 1960s, “Isadora” and “Women In Love” — both made when the Women’s Movement was gaining traction — the film is a rich tapestry of history, emotion, and visual imagery.

April 19, 2018 | No comment | Read More »

Lou Andreas-Salomé, The Audacity to be Free

Lou Andreas-Salomé, The Audacity to be Free

Reminiscent of two big movies of the late 1960s, “Isadora” and “Women In Love” — both made when the Women’s Movement was gaining traction — the film is a rich tapestry of history, emotion, and visual imagery.

April 19, 2018 | No comment | Read More »

Dr. Martin Luther King: Healing Words in Troubled Times

Dr. Martin Luther King: Healing Words in Troubled Times

Local leaders have taken up the fight against toxic waste sitings, polluting industrial locations, and incinerators near their frontline communities. From Standing Rock to Baltimore — activists are moving forward on the example set by Dr. King.

January 15, 2018 | No comment | Read More »

Massachusetts AG Maura Healey: Protecting the Environment

Massachusetts AG Maura Healey: Protecting the Environment

The work we do as state attorneys general isn’t about just one person. It’s about the dedicated women and men in offices across the country who enforce the law and protect people’s rights. Our commitment to protecting the climate and advancing clean energy is unchanged and stronger than ever.

May 21, 2018 | No comment | Read More »


Massachusetts AG Maura Healey: Protecting the Environment

The dust has started to settle in the wake of the Schneiderman resignation. Yet, you have played a key role in the Exxon lawsuit. Specifically, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently rejected the company’s arguments that you were biased and that state courts lacked jurisdiction in the case. How do you see progress moving forward, both in the ExxonMobil case and the other pending lawsuits against the EPA?

The work we do as state attorneys general isn’t about just one person. It’s about the dedicated women and men in offices across the country who enforce the law and protect people’s rights.  Our commitment to protecting the climate and advancing clean energy is unchanged and stronger than ever. Together, we are advocating on a number of fronts to protect the environment and human health, and that work continues.

With regards to Exxon Mobil, our state’s highest court has affirmed our office’s authority to investigate the company and ordered it to turn over documents. We look forward to continuing our critical investigation.

There is a coalition working to push back on the Scott Pruitt agenda to deconstruct the EPA. The group has already filed formal comments objecting to Pruitt’s move to repeal the Clean Power Plan. Where does this currently stand?

Last month, I joined with a coalition of 27 states, cities and counties calling on the EPA and Scott Pruitt to abandon their misguided and illegal effort to repeal the Clean Power Plan and instead to implement this vital rule that would protect our climate and public health, and would help grow the clean energy economy. Following up on a related filing we made in January, we recently presented EPA with additional evidence that Pruitt’s involvement in EPA’s efforts to repeal the Clean Power Plan has tainted the process with unfairness, given his repeated attacks against the Clean Power Plan while he was Oklahoma Attorney General and since his confirmation as EPA Administrator. We have been defending this critical rule in court for more than two years, and we are going to continue to fight to keep it on the books.

Can you outline previous coalition successes via lawsuits in the area of methane emissions, vehicle fuel efficiency, and other proposed rollbacks?

We’ve had a number of important wins so far:

  • In June 2017, we intervened in a lawsuit against EPA for halting critical regulations of methane emissions and other harmful pollutants from new and modified oil and gas infrastructure. One month later, the D.C. Circuit Court issued an order blocking the EPA from suspending the regulations.

  • Two days after we sued the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation for their illegal delay of a regulation that would lead to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles on federal highways, the Administration backed down and allowed the regulation to become effective. The Administration is proposing to roll back this regulation, and we filed comments opposing that move.

  • After we sued the EPA for illegally delaying required actions to address harmful ground-level ozone, EPA decided to reverse the delay the next day and recently finalized those actions.

  • We have fought to stop the Department of Energy from delaying vital energy efficiency standards for appliances. These standards are both pro-environment and pro-consumer. Following a lawsuit we filed, the Trump Administration reversed course and finalized the efficiency standards for ceiling fans as written. We also sued to protect a suite of energy efficiency standards on a range of appliances that will save consumers and businesses an estimated $11.6 billion over a 30-year period and cause major reductions in air pollution. One month later, DOE implemented some of the standards (for walk-in coolers and freezers). In February 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled in our favor as to the other standards and ordered the Trump Administration to implement them. That ruling is now on appeal, and we are continuing to fight this illegal delay.

What is your reaction to Pruitt’s move to disallow certain research, many of the findings based on private databases? Specifically, studies that have served as building blocks of pollution legislation such as the Harvard ‘Six Cities’ Study of 1993, and the American Cancer Society 1995 study which linked air pollution to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as lung cancer?

We will vigorously oppose this dangerous proposal. The environment and science are under assault by the Trump Administration. Trump and Pruitt have handed over decision-making to climate change deniers and lobbyists for polluting industries. They are more concerned with those industries’ profits than our environment and public health. We will work with our partners to fight EPA’s efforts to disregard science, and we will defend the well-supported EPA rules and regulations that are on the books now and are critical to public health and our clean energy future.

The Trump administration is set to  “reconsider” greenhouse-gas-emission rules for the nation’s cars. How do you see this playing out, and will it create a precedent for states creating their own mileage standards in conflict with federal law?

Earlier this month, I filed suit in the D.C. Circuit along with 16 other states to stop Scott Pruitt from trashing these common sense fuel emissions standards for cars built in the coming decade. We believe these limits on tailpipe pollution have done more than any other measure to improve air quality, reduce carbon emissions, increase miles per gallon fuel economy, and save drivers money at the pump. EPA itself found in early 2017 that these rules will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 450 million metric tons and save drivers $1,650 per vehicle.  Since we know the transportation sector is the fastest growing source of greenhouse pollution in the country, these rules are more important than ever, and my office will continue to work with our partner states to defend them.

Do you think that Pruitt’s fossil fuel industry ties, going back to his relationships in Oklahoma as the state’s Attorney General, makes it impossible for him to carry out his responsibilities ethically and without undue influence?

Yes, we have seen time and again that Scott Pruitt has no interest in protecting the air we breathe or the water we drink – a job he swore an oath to do. He has handed over decision-making to the polluting industries and climate change deniers. We have been vocal about the ways his involvement has tainted the EPA’s current effort to repeal Clean Power Plan, and we are urging EPA to follow the law and remove him from that rulemaking process, to restore some basic level of fairness there.


A version of this article appeared on the website Moms Clean Air Force.

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May 21, 2018 | No comment | Read More »

Fracking Colorado Is A Health Justice Issue

This story has all the makings of a David and Goliath narrative. A low-income community fights back against a big fossil fuel company that has chosen to site a fracking operation right near their school. Moreover, their neighborhood was chosen after another location – where the school had a 77 percent white student body in a middle-class locale – pushed back. As a result, those plans were abandoned.

A new vicinity was picked to serve as a fracking field. It is near the Bella Romero Academy, located in the Greeley-Evans School District 6 of Weld County, Colorado. It has a demographic of 87 percent children of color. The children attend fourth through eighth grade.

Colorado has seen a huge increase in fracking.

This is because the state has the Niobrara Shale formation within its borders. Companies are eager to put down leases on land where they expect to find natural gas at levels of 3,000 to 14,000 feet below the earth’s surface.

There are several key players in this struggle:

The lawsuit, filed on the grounds that the approval of the site didn’t address health impacts, specifically underscores concerns registered in public comments.

The dissenting parties pointed out that fracking activity was neither far enough away from where children would be on school playgrounds, the school building itself, nor surrounding homes.

The numbers barely meet the regulations set up by the state. Fracking must be 500 feet away from houses. The offered proposal puts them at 509 feet. Schools must be 1,000 feet away from fracking sites; 1360 feet is the distance from the Bella Romero school to the proposed twenty-four well pads.

Research outlines the ground-level effect upon people living near fracking sites — the average size being 7.5 acres. A constant influx of truck traffic, as driving to and from the area is a given. Potential construction of new roads. Vehicles carry dangerous fluids and emit emissions, adding to air pollution. Gas flares may be present. Materials used in the process must be removed. The process is noisy. Drilling can run around the clock.

Fracking wells bring a disproportionate health impact to the surrounding residents.

Particulate matter and fumes lead to asthma attacks, skin rashes, lung impairment, and nose bleeds. Children are especially vulnerable.

I spoke with Paddy McClelland, leader of Wall of Women, a grassroots environmental group in Colorado. They are one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “The situation is an atrocity,” McClelland told me. It’s an example of environmental racism.”

The area is 89 percent Hispanic. According to the EPA Screening and Mapping Tool, there is also the issue of “linguistic isolation.” Add in the fact that there may be undocumented family members, and the chances for vocal outrage from residents is greatly diminished.

McClelland informed me that there are 50,000 fracking wells in Colorado, of which 29,000 are in Weld County. That number is greater than all the wells in Pennsylvania.

We have 5 inspectors for the whole state,” McClelland said. “Methane is the most dangerous of all the greenhouse gases.” She outlined how the soccer field for the kids was virtually adjacent to the proposed wells, and that the measurements used by the Extract Oil and Gas Company was a figure derived as a measurement from the back door of the school –not the playing fields.

Mothers speak out.

“It’s time. As mothers, we have to stand up for our children and the planet,” McClelland said emphatically.

Megan Meyer, a community resident, is the mother of two young children under six. She is currently getting her Masters in Environmental Policy and Management. We spoke by phone about the on-the-ground situation.

On the methodology used to determine the distance from the school to the fracking site, Meyer told me, “The bricks are protected, but the kids aren’t.” She added, “If this project is completed, Bella Romero will become the most fracked school in the United States.”

Meyer discussed the how the community had been taken advantage of by the fossil fuels companies. After the recession, residents were in desperate need of jobs. Despite health hazards, they were willing to take the risks associated with the industry, to support their families.

“If the Extraction Oil and Gas Company completes the project near Bella Romero Academy, the children will be at an increased risk of respiratory infections, asthma, developmental delays, and childhood cancer,” Meyer stressed. “It is essential that people speak out against this project, and against other egregious acts like this, that impact future generations.”

The case is currently in appeal, since a judge sided with the Extraction Oil and Gas Company. “Legality is not morality,” Meyer said flatly.

“As a mother, I believe that all children should have the right to play without being exposed to toxic chemicals”.

Photo: Courtesy of


This article originally appeared on the website Moms Clean Air Force.

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May 10, 2018 | No comment | Read More »

Lou Andreas-Salomé, The Audacity to be Free

Women are once again striving to find their power, while pushing back against a renewed shift toward patriarchal values and legislated limits on reproductive rights. The new film, “Lou Andreas-Salomé, The Audacity to be Free,” could not be better timed.

History too often repeats itself. We are currently in a period when the rise of anti-democratic sentiment is sweeping the globe. Experts on authoritarian leaders and governments underscore that totalitarianism and misogyny go hand in hand. Even in 2018, women forging their own narratives get disparaged.

“Lou Andreas-Salomé,” a German language film directed by Cordula Kablitz-Post, begins with a scene of a 1933 Nazi book burning. Freud’s work is going up in flames. Psychoanalysis was designated as a “Jewish science,” and Salomé was a friend and colleague of Freud.

Reminiscent of two big movies of the late 1960s, “Isadora” and “Women In Love” — both made when the Women’s Movement was gaining traction — the film is a rich tapestry of history, emotion, and visual imagery. In the latter category, one creative motif employed by Kablitz-Post is the transition of her players, from one locale and time frame to another, via tinted postcards. First introduced as part of Salomé’s memorabilia, static individual cards act as a backdrop for actors engaged in an activity.

Salomé is a larger-than-life figure. Top thinkers including Friedrich NietzschePaul Rée, and Rainer Maria Rilke are entwined in her life. Yet, despite her accomplishments in the fields of philosophy, psychology, and published writings as a poet, essayist, and novelist (Her first book was written under a male pseudonym.), Salomé has remained woefully under the radar.

No more.

Revealing Salomé’s story in flashbacks, Kablitz-Post uses the talents of three actresses to capture the essence of her subject. Broken down into the ages of 16, 21 to 50, and 72, this approach allows the viewer to experience the evolution and journey of Salomé’s life. The audience accompanies her while witnessing how her personal history evolved, and the events in which they were rooted.

The interlocutor for this process is Ernst Pfeiffer, a young man who reminds the older Salomé of Rilke. Their interaction is not without conflict. Yet, Pfeiffer develops into a close friend, and ultimately serves as the literary executor of Salomé’s estate.

Salomé is introduced as a little girl, emphatically insisting, “No!” It sets the stage for her saying, “Nein!” to the strictures of the church, a mother who wants her to marry and become a financially comfortable hausfrau, and the men who want to possess and control her.

The character of Salomé delivers remarks throughout the movie which embody her thinking from each respective period. As a young woman, we see her lecturing on the importance of women having “freedom of movement” to develop a “true path in life.”

When Salomé meets the leading male minds of her time, most who will fall in love with her, the excitement she feels when engaging in intellectual discourse is palpable.

Born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1861, Salomé is the sixth child of her family. Her siblings are boys. She rebels against the clothes and shoes that prevent her from climbing trees as easily as her brothers. “Why should girls always play indoors?” she laments, after falling out of a tree she was exploring. The tree will become an anchoring point, as well as a symbol of Salomé’s quest for self-determination.

The world Salomé has known is shattered when father, and ally, dies. She is 16-years-old. He leaves her a note which advises, “Become who you are.”

She takes his words to heart.

In a dramatic scene, Salomé challenges the leader of her church during services, only to storm out when he is unwilling and unable to supply a satisfactory response.

To advance her knowledge, Salomé begins to read about philosophy. She studies with the Dutch-born minister Henrik Gillot, who expands her horizons in the areas of theology, German and French literature, and philosophy. While under his tutelage, her youthful crush is taken to heart by the 40-year old Gillot. When he proposes to Salomé, offering to unencumber himself from his wife and children, she rejects him and his physical advances. Shaken, Salomé vows to close herself off from falling in love.

In 1880, Salomé attends the University of Zürich, the only establishment in Europe women were allowed to attend. She devotes herself to her studies until ill health sends her to the warmer climate of Italy — with her mother as a chaperon.

In Rome, Salomé meets Paul Rée, who introduces her to his friend, Friedrich Nietzsche. Both men are infatuated, and want to marry Salomé. “I will never marry,” she insists, determined to be free and independent. She is firm in the belief that that the life she envisions for herself is incompatible with a family. (Although during the film, we learn of how she has nurtured a child.)

Pressed by everyone around her to undertake a conventional life, Salomé continues to refuse.

“You want to change the whole world. I only wish to change my own fate,” she tells Nietzsche. They part ways. In a desire for fellowship, Salomé consents to live with Rée in Berlin. However, that is not successful either.

To focus on her work without interruption, Salomé agrees to marry the linguist and professor Friedrich Carl Andreas, but “in name only.” Their marriage was never consummated, although they would remain as husband and wife.

It is not until Salomé becomes deeply involved with Rainer Maria Rilke, intellectually, emotionally, and sexually, that she is able to integrate all the disparate aspects of her personality. Her view of the connection is extremely contemporary and acknowledges the principle of fluid gender identity. Salomé often referenced herself as “androgynous.” She felt that she and Rilke were so well suited because he was in touch with the feminine side of himself. Salomé believed that “everyone should find the opposite sex within themselves.” The age difference between her (36-years-old) and the 21-year-old poet was not a key factor. Although she called the summer of 1897, when she and Rilke were together, the “best summer of her life,” the relationship ended when she began to find his love suffocating.

“I was never able to compromise,” Salomé admits to Pfeiffer. She also recognized that she needed to control the demise of her affairs.

In 1911, Salomé journeyed to Vienna, to undergo psychoanalysis with Freud, and to immerse herself in that nascent field. Her ideas were thought catalysts to Freud, specifically on the topic of narcissism. She became the first women psychoanalyst, and practiced for the final third of her life — until the Nazis came to power. Her contributions to the scientific work on the role of women and their sexuality was groundbreaking.

I interviewed Kablitz-Post by email to inquire about her motivations in bringing Salomé’s story to the screen. She related that she had first read about Salomé when she was 17. Kablitz-Post found it inspiring that there had been a woman who managed to live a self-determined, independent life — developing her talents, following her own needs against all odds, and becoming the personality that she wanted to be.”

For the construction of the film, Kablitz-Post knew it was essential to cover the totality of her subject, from youth to old age. “Every man that appears in the film is connected to a special episode in her life,” Kablitz-Post said, “but she never lost herself in these relationships.”

Kablitz-Post shared a concise mission. “I hope that a lot of young women discover Lou Andreas-Salomé as one of the first truly emancipated women in history, and then want to know more about her.” She added, “My film is only a short glimpse into her rich life and body of work.”

When the Nazis send Salomé a summons, she begins to burn her journals, letters, and papers. While looking into the camera, she quotes her writing from a retrieved page:

The world will give you few gifts, believe me.
So if you want a life,
Steal it.

“Lou Andreas-Salomé, The Audacity to be Free” opens in New York City (Village East) on April 20th and in Los Angeles (Laemmle Royal) on April 27th.

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Apr 19, 2018 | No comment | Read More »

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