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Ben Enticknap, Oceana, (503) 329-4465 or email@example.com
Andrea Treece, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 436-9682
x 306 or atreece@biologicaldiversity.
Teri Shore, Turtle Island Restoration Network,
(707) 583-4428 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Today the National Oceanographic Atmospheric
Administration issued a proposed rule to designate more than 70,000 square
miles of critical habitat for endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtles in the
waters off California, Oregon,
If the rule is finalized, this would be the first time critical habitat is
designated for sea turtles in ocean waters off the continental United States.
The proposal is in response to a petition submitted in
September 2007 by Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Turtle
Island Restoration Network, seeking greater protections for endangered
leatherbacks and their critical foraging grounds and migratory corridors in
U.S. Pacific waters. The proposed rule will be open for public comments until
March 8, after which the agency must issue a final ruling on critical habitat
within one year.
"We have a duty to protect Pacific leatherbacks when
they visit our shores, and today's action brings us ever closer to fulfilling
that obligation," said Ben Enticknap, Pacific Project Manager for Oceana.
"Critical habitat designation provides another tool for protecting these
ancient creatures, but their survival still hinges on the U.S. fully protecting them in our
waters to set policy precedent for the world."
While today's proposal will advance protections for
leatherbacks and their critical habitat, there were some unfortunate exclusions
of important geographic areas, as well as a failure to identify protections for
leatherbacks from a primary threat, namely entanglement in commercial fishing
gear. The area proposed by the National Oceanographic Atmospheric
Administration stretches from northern Washington
to Southern California, but excludes a large expanse of foraging and migratory
areas between the Umpqua River in Central Oregon and Point Arena in Northern California. The proposed rule also excludes
consideration of fishing gear as a threat to migrating and feeding
leatherbacks, even though incidental interaction with commercial fishing gear
is a leading cause of death for this species.
"Today's proposal marks the first step in making
sure these giant turtles have a safe and productive place to feed after their
amazing swim across the entire Pacific Ocean," said Andrea Treece, an
attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Now the government
needs to take the next step and improve its proposal by incorporating more of
the species' key habitat areas and addressing one of the worst threats to
leatherback survival - entanglement in commercial fishing gear."
Leatherbacks can grow up to nine feet long and weigh up to
1,200 pounds (the equivalent of three refrigerators). Every summer and fall,
Pacific leatherbacks migrate from their nesting grounds in Indonesia to the ocean waters off
the U.S. West Coast to feed on jellyfish. This 12,000-mile journey is the
farthest known migration of any living marine reptile. During that journey,
leatherbacks face a gauntlet of threats across the Pacific, including capture
in commercial fishing gear, ingestion of plastics, poaching, global warming,
and ocean acidification. Protection of their foraging habitats and migratory
corridors is essential to the recovery of this imperiled species.
"Protecting these patches of ocean will help
leatherbacks survive," said Teri
Shore, program director
at the Turtle Island Restoration Network. "But turning a blind eye to
effects of allowing deadly fishing hooks in these critical areas is a major
Background on the petition
The critical habitat proposal comes after a lengthy series
of efforts to protect leatherbacks off the U.S. West Coast. Oceana, the Center
for Biological Diversity, and Turtle Island Restoration Network submitted a
petition for the designation of critical habitat for Pacific leatherbacks on
September 26, 2007. The area the groups proposed for designation had already
been determined by the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration to be
a Leatherback Conservation Area, where the use of certain fishing gear was
prohibited during the foraging season. That determination itself was the result
of a lawsuit in March 2000 by the Center for Biological Diversity and Turtle
Island Restoration Network.
NOAA received the current critical habitat petition on
October 2, 2007, and was obligated to make a determination regarding how to
proceed in response to the petition within one year. In May 2009, after more
than a year and a half of agency delays, the groups filed a lawsuit under the
Endangered Species Act to secure a definitive timeline for findings on the
critical habitat petition. Under the terms of the settlement, the conservation
groups and NOAA eventually agreed that the agency would make its decision by
December 31, 2009. Under the Endangered Species Act, when an area is designated
as critical habitat, federal agencies must ensure they do not fund, authorize,
or carry out any actions, including activities such as energy projects and
aquaculture, which would harm that habitat.
The same settlement related to critical habitat also
addressed the agency's obligation to respond to petitions calling for
loggerhead sea turtles in the Atlantic and
Pacific to be listed as endangered instead of threatened under the Act. NOAA is
required to submit its determination about these petitions by February 19,
Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation
organization with more than 240,000 members and online activists dedicated to
protecting endangered species and wild places. For more information, please
to protect and restore the world's oceans. Our teams of marine
scientists, economists, lawyers and advocates win specific and concrete
changes to reduce pollution and to prevent the irreversible collapse of
populations, marine mammals and other sea life. Global in scope and
to conservation, Oceana has campaigners based in North America, Europe
and South America. More than 300,000 members and e-activists
in over 150 countries have already joined Oceana. For more information,
Restoration Network is an
international marine conservation organization headquartered in California whose 10,000 members work to protect sea
turtles and marine biodiversity in the United States and around the world.
For more information, visit www.SeaTurtles.org.
At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.(520) 623-5252
"Today and every day let's honor King as we end racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the denial of healthcare, militarism, and this false narrative of Christian nationalism," said Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis.
To mark Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, leaders of a modern iteration of the slain civil rights champion's final campaign called on U.S. politicians from both sides of the aisle—many of whose policies and actions are like those King condemned as the "evil triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism"—to step up and meet the needs of the country's poor and low-income people.
Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival released a video demanding the Biden administration and every member of Congress "meet with poor and low-wealth people, religious leaders, economists, lawyers, and public health specialists to address the systemic policy violence that threatens the soul of our nation."
"When prophets are killed or assassinated, our job is to pick up the baton and continue the work," campaign co-chair Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II said in the video. "Sadly, many will go to King events today and claim to honor the prophet. Elected officials on both sides of the aisle will go while even today, they are standing diametrically opposed to the things he fought for: addressing systemic poverty, addressing racism, ensuring voter protection, just immigration policy, just treatment of Indigenous people, healthcare for all, and dealing with the war economy and militarism."
As they do each year, officials—including Republican lawmakers who voted against an MLK Day holiday, the U.S. government King called "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today," and its agencies like the FBI that tried to destroy King—all took to Twitter to sing his praises.
Poor People's Campaign Petition Congress to Truly Honor MLK Legacy | Press Conferencewww.youtube.com
Rev. Liz Theoharis, also a co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign, said in the video that "this Martin Luther King Day, we must continue a campaign for social, political, and economic rights, not simply commemorate a man. Today and every day let's honor King as we end racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the denial of healthcare, militarism, and this false narrative of Christian nationalism. Let us fight poverty, not people."
The video also includes messages from low-income Americans and advocates calling for healthcare, living wages, "and more so everyone can thrive."
"I live in North Carolina. I work 60 hours a week and more and I still don't make enough money to live comfortably," Matthew Byars said in the video. "I'm chasing the American Dream, but I'm living the American nightmare. Raise the minimum wage. Impacted people matter too."
King, along with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, launched the original Poor People's Campaign in December 1967, months before he was assassinated in Memphis while supporting a strike by Black sanitation workers. King said the movement's demands were $30 billion for anti-poverty programs, full employment for all, a guaranteed universal income, and the annual construction of 500,000 affordable homes.
SCLC president Ralph Abernathy led the campaign after King's murder, and in May 1968—just weeks after King's murder—his widow, Coretta Scott King, led demonstrators in a two-week protest in Washington, D.C., where participants demanded an Economic Bill of Rights.
Camp life in Resurrection City 1968www.youtube.com
Thousands of poor people camped on the National Mall in a community called Resurrection City, which stood for six weeks—including on the day when Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.) was assassinated on June 5—until police violently destroyed it and evicted the protesters.
"At a time when online mobilizations were one of the few forms of protest available to the public, Twitter was seemingly asked to shield the powerful from criticism," said one campaigner. "That should worry all those who care about accountability."
Drugmaker BioNTech and the German government pushed Twitter to "hide" posts by activists calling on Big Pharma to temporarily lift patents on Covid-19 vaccines—a move which would have given people the Global South greater access to the lifesaving inoculations, a report published Monday by The Intercept revealed.
Twitter lobbyist Nina Morschhaeuser "flagged the corporate accounts of Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca for her colleagues to monitor and shield from activists," according to The Intercept's Lee Fang. An email from Morschhaeuser said the German Federal Office for Information Security also contacted Twitter on behalf of BioNTech, whose spokesperson, Jasmina Alatovic, asked the social media giant to "hide" activist tweets targeting her company's account for two days.
Morschhaeuser, meanwhile, requested that colleagues track the hashtags #PeoplesVaccine—a movement for the temporary lifting of patent protections—and #JoinCTAP, a reference to the World Health Organization's Covid-19 Technology Access Pool. Morschhaeuser further warned that the advocacy group Global Justice Now shared an online signup form for a December 2020 People's Vaccine Day of Action.
"The allegations in this article suggest that government and industry tried to silence legitimate criticism during a crisis," Maaza Seyoum, Global South convener at the People's Vaccine Alliance, said in a statement Monday. "At a time when online mobilizations were one of the few forms of protest available to the public, Twitter was seemingly asked to shield the powerful from criticism. That should worry all those who care about accountability."
\u201c\ud83d\udce2 REACTION: German government and @BioNTech_Group asked Twitter to censor vaccine equity critics.\n\nNew #TwitterFiles piece by @lhfang shows how they worked to silence activists demanding a #PeoplesVaccine\n\nRead our reaction: https://t.co/VyaSBIbWnS\n\n1/\u201d— The People's Vaccine (@The People's Vaccine) 1673889107
Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden also noted the troubling timing of BioNTech's censorship request during a period of global pandemic lockdowns.
"To try and stifle digital dissent during a pandemic, when tweets and emails are some of the only forms of protest available to those locked in their homes, is deeply sinister," he told The Intercept.
It is not clear to what extent Twitter took any action on BioNTech's request. In response to Morschhaeuser's inquiry, several Twitter officials chimed in, debating what action could or could not be taken. Su Fern Teo, a member of the company's safety team, noted that a quick scan of the activist campaign showed nothing that violated the company's terms of service, and asked for more examples to "get a better sense of the content that may violate our policies."
But it shows the extent to which pharmaceutical giants engaged in a global lobbying blitz to ensure corporate dominance over the medical products that became central to combating the pandemic. Ultimately, the campaign to share Covid vaccine recipes around the world failed.
While U.S. President Joe Biden in 2021 heeded activists' calls and joined most of the Global South in backing a Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver at the World Trade Organization, most rich nations—including Germany—oppose the policy and have, along with Big Pharma, fought to thwart it.
"If the German government wants to show that it is now willing to side with public health over private profit, it must change its approach to pandemic response," Seyoum asserted. "That means backing efforts at the World Trade Organization to improve access to generic Covid-19 medicines and treatments, supporting the World Health Organization's mRNA Hub in South Africa, and standing up to corporate interests in negotiations over a Pandemic Treaty."
Critics rebuke U.S. climate envoy for calling Sultan al-Jaber a "terrific choice."
Progressives on Monday reacted with outrage and disbelief after U.S. climate envoy John Kerry backed the appointment of Sultan al-Jaber to lead the the United Nations' annual conference on the climate emergency, saying the CEO of the United Arab Emirates' state-run oil company was not only qualified to preside over the summit, but that his background strengthened the case for his presidency.
As Common Dreamsreported last week, the UAE named al-Jaber as president of the 28th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), scheduled to begin in November—a decision that was met with scorn from campaigners as al-Jaber is heads the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and a renewable energy firm in which ADNOC holds a 24% stake.
"I think that Dr. Sultan al-Jaber is a terrific choice because he is the head of the company. That company knows it needs to transition," Kerry told the Associated Press Sunday, despite the fact that scientists and advocates across the globe have also known for decades that policymakers must lead a rapid transition away from oil and gas-generated energy. "He knows—and the leadership of the UAE is committed to transitioning."
Advocates have warned that the UAE has not made clear how it plans to reach its stated goal of being carbon neutral by 2050, especially as it plans to increase production of crude oil by a million barrels per day.
The UAE is expected to become "the third largest expander of oil and gas production" between 2023 and 2025 as ADNOC embarks on the second-largest expansion of oil production of any company in the world, locking in more than 2.7 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions.
But when asked by Sky News Arabia about whether al-Jaber would have a conflict of interest at the conference, where leaders are expected to be pushed to take significant emissions-reduction steps, Kerry dismissed the concern.
"That's a first blush, very simplistic way to look at this," Kerry said, adding that "the only way we will meet this crisis and protect our citizens and build an economy for the future, is by reducing emissions."
Putting the ADNOC executive—who is also the UAE's climate enjoy and minister of industry and technology—in charge of COP28 drew comparisons from Progressive International leader Yanis Varoufaki to naming "a jihadist to oversee religious tolerance" or "a Nazi to oversee racial harmony."
"What could go wrong?" labor historian Erik Loomis asked sardonically.
\u201cJeffrey Dahmer placed to oversee anti-cannibalism commission. \n\nhttps://t.co/D7Yyz2MMAw\u201d— Erik Loomis (@Erik Loomis) 1673888060
COP28 will follow the two most recent international climate conferences, held in Glasgow, Scotland and Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where hundreds of fossil fuel lobbyists were in attendance and policymakers failed to hammer out a final agreement requiring countries to phase out oil, coal, and gas extraction.
Kerry toldSky News Arabia that the UAE was not "involved in changing" the outcome of the COP26 and COP27 talks.
The former secretary of state acknowledged that there would be "a level of scrutiny" aimed at al-Jaber's appointment.
"And I think that's going to be very constructive," he told the AP. "It's going to help people, you know, stay on the line here. I think this is a time, a new time of accountability."
Acknowledging Kerry's negotiating of the Paris climate agreement in 2015—which despite its many flaws and shortcomings represents the strongest global pact ever reached on the issue—Leo Roberts of the climate think tank E3G said on social media that the U.S. politician's endorsement of el-Jaber represents "a really rather spectacular fall from grace."