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Kates, NLG Middle East Subcommittee,
The National Lawyers Guild calls for the freedom of Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian political prisoners on the occasion of the November 25, 2008 meeting of the Israeli military trial against Sa'adat.
Ahmad Sa'adat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, has been imprisoned by Israel for over two and one-half years, after being abducted from the Palestinian Authority prison at Jericho on March 14, 2006 during a 10-hour siege by the Israeli military.
Sa'adat is currently facing a military trial for 19 political offenses. Meetings of the military court on these charges have been repeatedly delayed and postponed; it often meets for one day and does not reconvene for periods of up to three months before continuing.
On November 25, 2008, Sa'adat faces a hearing of the military court in his case. The prosecutor has stated that there is no further evidence against Sa'adat, and his case is expected to be referred to sentencing. Sa'adat has refused to recognize the legitimacy of Israeli military courts to try him or any other Palestinian political prisoner. He has refused to speak in court except to make general statements to the Palestinian people calling for national unity and upholding Palestinian rights.
Israel currently holds over 11,000 Palestinian men, women and children as political prisoners. One out of every four Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza has been subject to political arrest or detention, including 40% of Palestinian men from the West Bank and Gaza. Sa'adat is one of a number of Palestinian national leaders, including Marwan Barghouti, Abdelaziz Dweik, Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and 39 other members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, currently imprisoned by Israel.
Over half of Palestinian prisoners have never been tried. Those Palestinian prisoners and detainees who are tried are brought before an Israeli military court, which is presided over by three judges, only one of which is required to have any legal training. These courts serve as a function of the illegal military occupation, and thus can never provide a legitimate or fair trial to Palestinian political prisoners.
On the occasion of the November 25 hearing, the National Lawyers Guild reiterates its call for the immediate freedom of Ahmad Sa'adat and all Palestinian political prisoners and detainees.
The National Lawyers Guild supports the call of the Campaign to Free Ahmad Sa'adat for actions, events, and statements in support of Sa'adat and Palestinian political prisoners.
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) works to promote human rights and the rights of ecosystems over property interests. It was founded in 1937 as the first national, racially-integrated bar association in the U.S.(212) 679-5100
"Corporations are designed to serve their investors, not the public, and that's exactly what these carbon offsetting schemes will do," said one researcher.
Climate and agricultural policies aimed at bolstering carbon markets will fail to curb planet-heating emissions while enabling powerful agribusiness corporations to greenwash their polluting operations and augment their control over the food system.
That's according to Agricultural Carbon Markets, Payments, and Data: Big Ag's Latest Power Grab, a report published Wednesday by Friends of the Earth, an environmental advocacy group, and the Open Markets Institute, an anti-monopoly think tank.
While farmers could play a key role in mitigating the climate crisis by adopting agroecological practices capable of sequestering more carbon in the soil, the report warns that U.S. lawmakers from both major parties have embraced a "market-based" approach—centered around the buying and selling of so-called "carbon offset" credits generated through minor tweaks to industrial monoculture production—that is likely to tighten Big Ag's chemical-intensive stranglehold on the food system and disenfranchise small-scale farmers, all while failing to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.
"Carbon markets have become a top strategy for agriculture and climate, despite a history of fraud, failure to reduce emissions, and corporate greenwashing," report co-author Jason Davidson, senior food and agriculture campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said in a statement. "Such corporate schemes will strengthen the power of the largest agribusinesses, hand over private farm data, and fail to address the climate crisis."
"Instead of another handout to Big Ag, the Biden administration and Congress must support farmers in pursuing proven climate solutions."
As the report explains: "The idea begins with granting credits to farmers who adopt certain practices, such as planting more trees and cover crops, that are supposed to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Farmers then receive compensation for their efforts by selling these credits to other entities, typically large corporations. These corporations, in turn, use their purchases of such credits to justify claims of environmental responsibility."
Though these corporations "may still be emitting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, they claim to have 'offset' these emissions by paying others to pollute less or actively sequester carbon, often to the point of asserting that they now have a 'net-zero' climate impact," states the report.
A recent investigation revealed that 94% of the rainforest carbon offsets sold by a leading market player provided no measurable climate benefits, casting further doubt on the very notions of 'net-zero' and 'carbon neutrality' that corporations promote in a bid to maintain or expand their own polluting activities while portraying themselves as green.
Despite mounting evidence of the ineffective or counterproductive nature of 'net-zero' commitments, one-fifth of the world's biggest corporations have made them, meaning that demand for carbon offsets is growing, the report notes. Meanwhile, the federal government is providing key support to such programs, including indirectly through the Inflation Reduction Act and directly through a pair of bills embedded in the Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.
The first, the Growing Climate Solutions Act, instructs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to "list private carbon market facilitators on its website and broadly list protocols for measuring carbon sequestration," the report explains. The SUSTAINS Act, meanwhile, threatens to lend government legitimacy to "fledgling soil carbon offset schemes," which "could influence their value in voluntary exchanges" and "fan the flames of a speculative industry that stands to divert resources from effective pollution reduction and regulation." Moreover, through its so-called Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities pilot program, the USDA is poised to offer more than half a billion dollars in grants to several agribusiness giants.
According to the report:
Big agribusiness corporations are using the system to deepen their own monopolistic power. Programs run by corporations such as Cargill, Bayer, Nutrien, and Corteva pay farmers for adopting specific farming practices that either depend on the companies' proprietary technologies or require farmers to use their digital agriculture platforms.
Under these private carbon offset programs, agribusiness giants define climate-smart agriculture and promote large-scale, monoculture, chemical-dependent farming methods that can harm the environment in the long run and further entrench their market power. By controlling the same private, unregulated carbon-offset markets in which they trade on their own account and set their own prices, they are also subject to massive conflicts of interest.
"We can't trust the very corporations that got us into this climate crisis to get us out of it on their terms and timeline," said report co-author Claire Kelloway, food program director for the Open Markets Institute. "Corporations are designed to serve their investors, not the public, and that's exactly what these carbon offsetting schemes will do by locking farmers into their networks, protecting product sales, and stalling meaningful regulation."
A joint statement from Friends of the Earth and the Open Markets Institute explained three major pitfalls of private soil carbon credit programs:
"There's no doubt that farmers should be supported in shifting to ecologically regenerative methods," the report says. "But the evidence shows that using carbon offsets to do so is a counterproductive and inequitable approach that will let big polluters off the hook and fail the needs of family farmers."
Davidson said that "instead of another handout to Big Ag, the Biden administration and Congress must support farmers in pursuing proven climate solutions."
As Congress debates the next Farm Bill, the report's executive summary calls on lawmakers and the USDA to take the following steps:
Notably, a separate report published Wednesday by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy showed that 3 out of every 4 farmers who applied for EQIP and CSP funds in 2022 were denied.
"We do not have time or resources to waste on ineffective approaches to addressing the climate crisis, especially those that greenwash corporate pollution and risk increasing greenhouse gas emissions," wrote Davidson and Kelloway. "Congress and the USDA must channel the billions of dollars that are being invested in climate-smart agriculture toward proven and transformative solutions."
"This is the kind of pressure that could force the company to the bargaining table," said one reporter.
Dozens of white-collar Starbucks employees have endorsed a petition calling out the Seattle-based coffee chain for requiring them to return to the office and interfering with a national unionization push by baristas, Bloombergrevealed Wednesday.
"Starbucks is making headlines and attracting Senate attention for tampering with the federal right of store partners to have fair elections, free from fear, coercion, and intimidation," says the letter, reportedly sent to senior executives and board members.
As the push to organize continues—407 U.S. stores have voted for elections and 292 have voted to unionize—so does the company's forceful response, Starbucks Workers United said in an email Wednesday. While Starbucks has continuously denied any law-breaking, the National Labor Relations Board has issued over 70 complaints against the company, which faces more than 1,200 alleged violations.
\u201cWe can't thank these courageous Support Partners from Starbucks HQ enough for speaking out, calling on executives to reverse the Return to Office mandate and to respect the right to organize and sign the Fair Election Principles. #tobeapartner \ud83e\uddf5\u201d— Starbucks Workers United (@Starbucks Workers United) 1677682575
"This behavior of not listening to partners has also impacted us, the support partners," the letter stresses. "An unforeseen and poorly planned 'return to office' mandate is making our lives more difficult, prioritizing corporate control over productivity, diversity, and inclusion, and individual job satisfaction, effectively reducing our ability to positively impact store partner experience."
"We love Starbucks, but these actions are fracturing trust in Starbucks leadership," adds the petition—signed by 44 named individuals and another 22 who wish to remain anonymous—advocating for a commitment to "a policy of neutrality and respect for federal labor laws" and a reversal of the return to office mandate for those who were able to work remotely.
As Bloomberg detailed:
In January, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz sent a memo requiring workers within commuting distance to return to the office three days a week. He told white-collar staff that baristas "are asking us to do the transformative work that I believe can only be done effectively when we are physically together."
Employees say their protest letter emerged from online discussions over the past couple months that were triggered in part by Schultz's January email. It also reflects long-running frustration by some white-collar staff with Starbucks' response to the union campaign, which U.S. labor board prosecutors have alleged included illegal threats and terminations of around 50 activists. Workers United barista-activists and organizers have been advising the white-collar workers' nascent efforts.
"After Howard issued his edict, I definitely did not feel good working for Starbucks anymore—it felt like I am working for a dictator," Starbucks app developer and letter signatory Peter de Jesus told the outlet. "I feel like this is not the Starbucks that I signed on for."
"A lot of people just want to have their grievances and their demands aired, and hope for change," de Jesus added. "If it doesn't lead to any meaningful change, then the next step is obviously to think about possibly unionizing."
According to Bloomberg:
A Starbucks spokesperson confirmed that the letter was received and said that the company has already been responding to feedback by making adjustments to its office return policy, such as boosting commuter benefits. The spokesperson shared a Wednesday Slack exchange in which a manager, in response to an employee's link to the open letter, said that he would not be clicking the link but would instead like to schedule a meeting to hear the worker's perspective.
The letter—support for which carries risks for members of management, given limits of federal labor laws—not only could be "a precursor to eventual unionization efforts by white-collar Starbucks staff themselves," as Bloomberg noted, it also could aid organizers fighting for contracts and union elections at Starbucks locations across the country.
In response to the new reporting, journalist Bryce Covert
tweeted: "Hundreds of Starbucks stores have unionized but none have a contract. This is the kind of pressure that could force the company to the bargaining table."
\u201cWhen you\u2019re unionizing a large corporate workforce get this corner of its labor on your side it\u2019s like oxygen for the fire\u201d— Jordan (@Jordan) 1677682821
The letter from Starbucks' white-collar workers came as Sen. Bernie Sanders(I-Vt.)—a supporter of the unionization effort at the company—announced that since Schultz has declined a recent invitation to testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which he chairs, members will vote next week on whether to subpoena the CEO, who is set to be replaced on April 1 by Laxman Narasimhan.
"The planet is running out of time and the banks are running out of excuses," said climate leader Bill McKibben.
A coalition of more than 240 advocacy groups on Wednesday launched a "Shareholder Showdown" campaign in support of shareholder resolutions urging climate action and respect for Indigenous rights at major U.S. and Canadian banks and insurance companies.
According to campaign coordinator Stop the Money Pipeline, the resolutions—which were filed by investors including the New York City and state pension funds, Sierra Club Foundation, and others—would require banks and insurance companies to "phase out their financing of companies engaged in fossil fuel expansion, report on projects that could violate Indigenous rights, use absolute emissions rather than emissions intensity targets, disclose 2030 transition plans, and hold directors accountable at banks that are not aligned with 1.5°C pathways."
The resolutions were timed to precede the companies' annual general meetings.
"This campaign is called Shareholder Showdown because we're in for a real fight—we're up against some globally powerful institutions," Arielle Swernoff, Stop the Money Pipeline's U.S. banks campaign manager, explained in an opinion piece published Wednesday by Common Dreams. "But organized people can achieve anything, and together we will stop the flow of money to fossil fuels and climate destruction."
\u201cToday we\u2019re launching our new campaign: #ShareholderShowdown! \n\nThis spring: banks + insurers will have their annual shareholder meetings, where they'll vote on resolutions needed to keep global warming below 1.5\u00b0C\u2026or decide to keep business as usual. \ud83d\udcb0\ud83d\udd25\n#StoptheMoneyPipeline\u201d— Stop the Money Pipeline (@Stop the Money Pipeline) 1677684715
Bill McKibben, co-founder of the climate group 350.org, said in a statement that "the planet is running out of time and the banks are running out of excuses—everyone from the pope to the secretary-general of the [United Nations] have called on them finally to act with clarity and conviction to help with the planet's greatest crisis, and shareholders should demand no less."
Among the resolutions filed are:
"Climate change is an existential crisis that can overwhelm a person in scale and size, impossible to address," said Tara Houska of the Giniw Collective, an Indigenous women and two-spirit-led frontline resistance group fighting fossil fuel projects like Line 3 in Minnesota.
"Big bank shareholders possess an enormous amount of influence on the world's emissions," Houska added. "A roomful of people can impact the disastrous course we are currently on. No more lip service or empty greenwashing—we need action, now."