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Last month, as a last organizing hoorah on campus (I’m graduating!), the Westminster Amnesty International chapter and I brought together a wonderful panel of women to highlight the incredible work that they and their respective NGOs are doing to combat violence against women, both here in Western Pennsylvania and globally.

On the panel were Jacqui Patterson, the amazing co-founder of Women of Color United (WOCU) and the director of the NAACP’s Climate Justice Initiative; Mary Day Kent, CARE’s Policy and Advocacy Coordinator for the Middle Atlantic region; and, for a local emphasis, Melissa Stellfox of the Lawrence County Crisis Shelter.

Speaking to an audience of around 60, Jacqui kicked things off with two clips from two great documentaries–No! The Rape Documentary and SASA!, which you can also find at WOCU’s webpage–that brought attention to the often perilous intersection between women of color, women infected with HIV/AIDS and women who are victims of systematic violence. Jacqui also told the stories of several women from the developing world, including Siri, “bringing the voices of women into the room”.

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This post is in response to fellow Regional Coordinator Erick Ford, who posted on this subject recently. Reference here.

Let’s be clear: we are not dependent on Middle Eastern oil. Say What?!?! Ok, name the three countries that export the most oil to the U.S. (hint: they’re not in the Middle East). They are, in this order, Canada, Mexico and Nigeria. In fact, in the top 10 there are only two countries in the Middle East (Iraq and Saudia Arabia). Thus, we get the clear majority of our oil from outside the Middle East.

I do, however, agree with Erick that America’s dependence on foreign sources of energy puts our national (energy) security at risk. But do we honestly believe that spending hundreds of millions on exploration and infrastructure to harness more oil are positive, forward-looking investments?

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In a bold, pre-sustainable development era move, the World Bank is pushing to finance a US$3.75 billion (rand 29 billion) project to establish a new coal plant in South Africa twice the size of the largest plant currently in Great Britain.

This project would be directed through Eskom, one of the largest suppliers of electricity to Africa (approximately 95% of South African electricity and 45% across the country), and incidentally one of the dirtiest and most resistant to clean, sustainable energies. And wait, it gets worse: Eskom had also, originally, planned a rate increases of 45% (!), but only a 25% increase was permitted by the South African government – which is still terrible.

Quick recap: the self-proclaimed sustainable development development agency, the World Bank, wants to loan the South African energy giant Eskom US$3.75 million to fund another dirty, out-of-fashion coal plant. W-O-W!

South Africa already emits more CO2 per capita than the UK and yet some 15% of its population remains unconnected to its energy grid. The SA government aims to reign in this portion of the populous with this new plant, but as a country rich in solar and wind potential, the largest funder of development assistance worldwide ought to be initiating development projects that will be sustainable, long-lasting endeavors, and not endanger South Africans present and future.

An African environmental group, Groundwork, has criticized the loan as “a bad project, contributing to energy poverty and environmental destruction.” This plant will only further pollute streams, destroy and pollute communities, and create an expensive mess the government will only be forced to cleanup years on down the line.

So,, one of the best, most cutting-edge progressive groups out there has launched a campaign, alongside 65 other indigenous groups in South Africa, to stop this ill-conceived development project.

Take action. Tell the World Bank “Clean Energy for South Africa, NOT Coal!”


Cross-post from It’s Getting Hot in Here (IGHIH) by Jamie Henn, organizer with

Many, many thanks to all of you at IGHIH who took part in yesterday’s International Day of Climate Action from our tired-but-psyched, humbled, and completely blown-away crew. October 24 succeeded beyond our wildest imaginations — journalists are calling it the most widespread day of political action in history.

Stay tuned to the blog for more updates and some of the best highlights from the day. And if you haven’t had a chance to watch the slide-show or visit our Flickr page, take a moment. The photos are truly spectacular and drive home the real message of the day: we’ve got a huge, beautiful, international movement.

Read on for a few photos here (they’re 16,000 in our Flickr set right now):

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


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So if you hadn’t heard, Power Shift Regional Summits have been happening all over the country (check out the map for a summit in your area). This weekend, Power Shift Pennsylvania pulled off our own summit at Penn State University.

While I hope to submit additional posts on the overall turnout, content of each panel and activists work around the first week of Senate hearings on the Kerry-Boxer bill, I want to start with the discussion that I found most interesting–the panel I facilitated on How Coal & Natural Gas Disrupt Communities and Degrade the Environment.

Presenting were Andrew Munn, from the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), Jay Sweeny and Brady Russell from Clean Water Action (CWA), Stephanie Simmons from both CWA and the Sierra Club, and Raina Rippel from the Center for Coalfield Justice and the newly formed Alliance for a Coal-Free Generation.


Andrew has been working and living in the Coal River Valley in West Virginia, working with communities affected by Mountaintop Removal. Jay and Brady have been working with communities affected by Natural Gas drilling into the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, along with Stephanie. And Raina has been doing some amazing organizing against Longwall Mining in her community.

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With 50 days left before the COP-15 international climate negotiations in Copenhagen, we’ll need a serious shift in climate (figuratively speaking) for any significant shift in climate (literally speaking) to happen after the close of negotiations on December 18th.

Developed and developing nations remain at an impasse over two major points of negotiation–who will incur the brunt of the costs to help developing countries adapt to climate change, and who will take the lead and stop pouring green house gases into the atmosphere. So, what are young people across the country doing to shift the climate state-by-state as our leaders remain stagnant and unproductive? Power Shift.

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First, let me begin with an introduction: my name is Ethan Frey. I’m a senior International Politics major (+ a few minors) at Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA.  I am serving as one of Americans for Informed Democracy’s Northeast Regional Coordinators this year, with a focus on  Global Environment. There’ll be some great, exciting and substantively significant events happening through the Fall (Power Shift Pennsylvania and Copenhagen, most namely) and I’m excited to organize around them – for and against them – with you all. Thanks for the opportunity!

Now on to the G20…

Unfortunately, I was only able to roam the streets of Pittsburgh Thursday, and not Friday. I’ll set the scene: driving south into Pittsburgh signs read “road closings for G20”, “Pittsburgh welcomes world leaders”, “Use caution: police forces on high alert”, so once we get into the  city, we realize that, in reality, the streets are bare aside from what seems to be a government crackdown in a policed state.

Our first stop: the press tent to assist with an Avaaz photo-op at the Media Check-In outside Mellon Arena.  They were marketing “SurvivaBall” – the newest chic invention by the zillionaires that (attempt to) run the world.

“SurvivaBall” is the G20’s answer to the climate crisis: corporate accountability; save our CEOs.

It’s oozes satire, as the Avaaz folks attempt to display how spending 1 billion to insure the CEOs and executive directors that run the largest corporations and countries is not going to be enough.

Their message: we need to spend the money now to ensure the safety, and provide the ability for developing countries to adapt to a changing climate. International Adaptation Aid is an issue that must emerge on the political scene once the U.S. Senate returns to negotiations around a Climate bill.

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August 2020

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