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H2O Man

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Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 07:49 PM
Number of posts: 70,073

Journal Archives

Albany, NY Rally

I attended a rally at the UU Church in Albany yesterday. It featured an interesting range of grass roots activists' perspective on the issues involved in the fight against hydrofracking, from a human rights perspective. Taking place on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "A Time to Break Silence (Beyond Vietnam)" speech added to the atmosphere.

Ray Lewis, a retired Philadelphia Police Captain, opened the show. Ray has been a high-profile participant in the Occupy Movement. He spoke about the threats that energy corporations pose to democracy in this country.

Scientist and inventor Clark Rhodes provided an intense description of why hydrofracking is never "safe" in the context of the geology of the northeast. Rhodes has an uncanny talent for presenting information in a manner that the lay-person can easily understand.

Elliot Adams, past president of National Veterans for Peace and former mayor of Sharon Springs, spoke about how King's most prophetic speech influenced his life. Adams is a serious man: in one recent anti-war rally in Washington, he chained himself -- with a bike chain tightly around his neck -- to the fence at the White House.

Harry Davis, a veteran of civil disobedience actions with GreenPeace and with the Berringan Brothers, spoke about the growing need for people to confront the monstor that is our common foe. Davis formed the anti-hydrofracking group that hosted this rally.

Dr. Lisa Barr spoke about journalism and the grass roots movement in the time of "Top Secret America." She had recently sued a town board in Pennsylvania that had attempter to prevent any non-corporate media from covering their meetings on hydrofracking-related issues.

I closed the show with a talk about Onondage Chief Paul Waterman's efforts to form a grass roots confederacy of traditional Native Americans, environmentalists, and other people with social consciences.

For the past few weeks, a mutant space cat had been invested in disrupting the plans for the rally. Because of the nature of this threat, the leaders of the rally determined that friend Cindy Sheehan should not join us (this despite the cooperation of the Albany police to insure things went relatively smoothly).

After the rally, Harry Davis and I were invited to the "press wing" of the State Capital Building, tobe interviewed by newspapers, television, and radio journalists. It was a bit of a giggle when we encountered one of the gas industry's top attorneys at the radio station; initially, he was not friendly, but I was able to start a "friendly" discussion with him.

Unpure Speculation

There are few things more painful than listening to a Willard "Mitt" Romney speech. The man makes plastic seem authentic. Still, watching Paul Ryan was, at least tonight, even worse.

In and of itself, that is perhaps of minor significance. Yet, tonight, it seems potentially important. There are plenty of rumors and speculation that Ryan will be Romney's choice for vice president. One doesn't need to be a huge fan of Obama-Biden, to find the thought of Romney-Ryan repulsive.

I have suspected the republican elders have told Romney that he will pick Ryan. Probably, although he views Ryan as a helpful option, Romney holds the tea party posterchild in contempt.

Hearing Romney say,"....but he won't take Ann's place" after being introduced by Ryan appears to confirm this suspicion, for Mitt is nothing if not passive-aggressive.

Re: Trayvon Martin

I have never experienced being a young black male in the United States of America. But I do have an understanding of some of the issues involved in that reality. Part of that understanding comes from reading: Dr. Rubin "Hurricane" Carter published his second book in 2011, which contained numerous and overwhelming statistics about the percentage of young black men involved -- in a negative way -- with the nation's legal system. More, my 40+ year friendship with Rube provided an eye-opening experience in the context of John Artis and Carter's journey through hell on earth, as young black men in America.

The murder of Trayvon Martin, and the failure of the legal system to provide justice, hits me in a way that a book cannot. A significant portion of my extended famil is black- or brown-skinned. Others are red, yellow, or white, providing a wide range of experiences. And I am not trying to say that the majority of life experiences are "bad." But some have come to mind as I watch the coverage of this murder case.

At times, things are just stupid. A cashier in a "Quick-Mart" telling "nigger jokes" when a nephew is at the counter. (She was quickly fired.) Other incidents are even stranger. A report goes out that a young black man robbed a store in a community 42 miles away; ten minutes after the first report, a town cop handcuffs another nephew as a "suspect." This nephew grew up in the town, and was a well-known high school scholar-athlete. But they all look alike.

Sometimes it's deadly. I had known Marvin since I was three. On May 15, 1979, he was with his brother and two friends at a local bar. Marv's brother ALWAYS cheated at cards, and he attempted to "win" a drink in a cardgame with one of the other guys. But he got caught, and his friend freaked. He drove to his girlfriend's house, and grabbed his shotgun. He found Marvin and the other fellow smoking a joint in the parking lot. When he raised the shotgun, Marvin said to him, "Hey! I've got no problem with you!" After killing Marvin, then the friend, he went into the bar and killed Marvin's brother.

I remember going towards the funeral home a few days later. A town cop was across the street, standing next to his car, with a large shotgun in his hand. I knew him, as he is "half" Native American, and seemed okay about half of the time. So it was surreal when, as I was walking by him, he said, "Pat, what'll you all think if I'm aiming this at you when you leave the funeral home?"

The triple murder was treated a bit less harsh than it might have been, because Marvin and his brother were black. The judge hearing the case would hear another in the same month; he sentenced a college student, with no previous record, to longer for having a quarter-gram of cocaine, than he did to a triple-murderer.

I've spoken before on DU about my nephew being viciously attacked by 17 members of a racial hate group. They resented that a brown-skinned high school senior was getting a lot of press, for taking his team to win a state title. The judge hearing the case, after being told the attackers called my nephew a "dumb nigger," that he did not believe this "proved" racial animosity. What else could "dumb nigger" possibly suggest?

The leader of the gange, who admitted punching and kicking my nephew as he lay unconscious, would be sentenced for a $50 fine -- for having an open beer at the time. That was it. Leaving a brutalized teenager for dead in a dark field didn't warrent a penalty.

A few years later, a group of teens approached me to request help. Their friend, then 18, had been given a life sentence for having sex with a minor, they claimed. I told them that I had my doubts that I was hearing the whole case. But the next day, they brought me documentation for the arrest, the trial, and sentence.

Had the girl who admitted approaching this young man been two weeks older, the oral sex she performed on him would have been legal. But because he was black, and she was white, it was prosecuted as a felony. And he was indeed given a life sentence -- although his only previous legal record was for being at a party where teens had beer and pot, and which was busted by police.

I called Rubin's attorney; he had me contact the original lawyer, to see if he had made an honest effort to defend this young man. The guy was honest: he really hadn't, because he had been able to resolve a number of cases with the DA in one big deal.

This young man was not born in the USA, and English was not his first language. He had not been referred for a psychological evaluation, to determine things such as "risk factor," possible treatment, or if he even understood English well enough to allow him to assist in his own defense.

Long story short: we got him out. But only after he had spent a year in Attica. I still have the letters he sent me during the year of incarceration. And I'm happy to say he has not had a single brush with the law in the decade since being released.

I could go on and on .... even more than I have here. And I realize that many other people have many other stories that are much the same. These are the things that I think about as I watch the Zimmerman folks adding layer upon layer of lies to try to justify the murder of a black teenager who was simply minding his own business in America.

April 4 Rally in Albany

Earlier today, I was asked to open at a rally in Albany, NY on April 4. I will have more details later.

There are going to be an interesting range of speakers; they include a representative of Veterans Against War and Cindy Sheehan.

Save the Susquehanna!

Save the Susquehanna!


“My role is to bring a message to non-Indian people along the Susquehanna and the rivers that are connected, like the Unadilla and Chenango. And my message is to work together to clean and protect these rivers. ….My goal is to teach people that the Susquehanna was my people's first highway. It is the actual bloodline of Mother Earth. My message is that the Susquehanna is sacred, and deserves our greatest respect.”
Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman; AHSKWA; 1997

In December, 2011, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission approved twenty new permit applications, allowing gas industries to withdraw massive amounts of the river's water for hydrofracking in Pennsylvania.

On Thursday, March 15, the SRBC will meet again, to consider passing sixty new permits. If passed, this would allow gas companies to withdraw 50 million gallons of water from the river daily.

Each water-transporting truck carries 4,000 gallons. Thus, this would mean over 12,000 new trucks carrying water from the Susquehanna, in addition to those permitted in December.

An average of one million gallons of water is required for every individual hydrofracking well. Each well also requires over 75,000 gallons of toxic chemicals, which are mixed into the water used to hydrofrack. As a result, one of the most significant evironmental dangers caused by hydrofracking for gas is millions of gallons of poisoned water: some will migrate to other water supplies under the ground, while more will be “disposed” of by discharging it into municipal waste treatment plants that are not equiped to deal with toxic industrial wastes. Thus, ground water supplies, as well as rivers, creeks, lakes, and ponds will be poisoned.

We need all concerned citizens to make four phone calls on Wednesday and Thursday. We are hoping to convince four politicians to tell their commissioners to vote “NO!” on all new water-withdrawal permits for hydrofracking in the Susquehanna River Basin – at least until a cumulative impact study is made.

The four politicians are:

1- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: 518-474-8390.
2- Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett: 717-787-2500.
3- Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley: 410-974-3901.
4- President Barack Obama: 202-456-1111.

The fact that no cumulative impact study has been done suggests that the SRBC is serving the needs of the energy corporations, rather than protecting the Susquehanna River and the plant, animal, and human populations living in the river basin.

Please call all four of these politicians both days. Also, spread the word to other family members, friends, neighbors, or groups/individuals interested in protecting the integrity of our planet.

Thank you,
Patrick R. McElligott

My latest LTTE


In an article published in The Daily Star on Jan. 17 regarding hydrofracking, Richard Downey of the Unatego Landowners Association made a couple of comments about me that I have hoped to have an opportunity to respond to.

The first was: "This fellow sounds like he is way out on the bell-shaped curve." This is likely true. I believe that it is possible, if enough citizens participate, that we could re-establish the constitutional democracy in America.

Hence, in January, I was exercising my First Amendment rights. My goal has been to talk to three people: State Sen. Thomas Libous; N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo; and environmental attorney Robert Kennedy Jr., the governor's ex-brother-in-law, who sits on Cuomo's hydrofracking advisory board.

On Jan. 26, at a large rally at the NYS Capitol that featured a couple members of the NYS Assembly and Senate, I delivered a key-note speech. The focus of my presentation was the First Amendment. This led directly to my meeting with Sen. Libous, and then with two of his top aides.

This past week, I have set up a meeting between pro-environment grass roots citizens from Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Otsego counties, with Robert Kennedy Jr., and others advising Cuomo. This important meeting will take place in March. My focus is, by no coincidence, the First Amendment.

Mr. Downey also said that I have "become a sideshow in a sideshow." My fondest dream has been to become an asterisk to a footnote to a sideshow to a sideshow. This may seem like a lofty goal … but with patience, even the smallest of turtles can climb the highest of mountains.
Patrick McElligott

Mount Upton


Satyagraha & the Unspeakable


When I announced my hunger strike on Martin Luther King Day in January, I based my speech on some of the writings of Thomas Merton. Although it was a bitter cold day, the group assembled outside of the State Office Building in Binghamton, NY, seemed to find my presentation interesting. When I finished, a gentleman came up and introduced himself to me: he was a Vietnam combat veteran, and had found Merton's teachings valuable in helping him to reintegrate into society. I found myself impressed at the fact that he had become a greater type of “warrior,” doing battle with the dark forces that Merton called “the Unspeakable.”

This week, during the course of driving my wife and I to a total of five lengthy medical appointments, I stopped at a bookstore for some new reading material. I picked up two good books. The first, by Bruce Miroff, a professor of political science at SUNY-Albany, is “The Liberals' Moment: The McGovern Insurgency and the Identity Crisis of the Democratic Party” (2007). Older forum members will recall the 1972 presidential election as disheartening. Ugly divisions within the Democratic Party, added to the post-60s fatigue and republican dirty tricks, resulted in the re-election of Richard Nixon. At that time, Nixon appeared to be the lowest life form that could possibly occupy the White House; both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush suggested there was a level beneath Nixon.

Younger forum members may recognize that there tends to be focus on that election than any other in recent history. Yet the cast of Democratic characters who played a role included both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, along with numerous others who played significant roles in national politics in every election since '72. Miroff produces a powerful argument about how the older established party leaders were more willing to force the nation to endure another Nixon term, than to join forces with the younger generation of insurgents who made McGovern's improbable nomination possible.

It's not a puff piece, though: Miroff shines a bright light on the errors of McGover, an honorable leader in a poisoned political atmosphere, and his campaign staff. It's fascinating reading for old activists. More, it is essential reading for all democratic/liberal/progressive grass roots activists today. (The McGovern campaign was the first that used the “new” technology of computers in the primary season!) It's said that wise people learn from others' mistakes; most people have to learn from their own mistakes; and that fools just never learn. We can all learn from this book.

The second book I got – which was recommended by a Good Friend who posts on this forum – is James Douglass's 2012 release, “Gandhi and the Unspeakable: His Final Experiment With Truth.” Douglass previously wrote “JFK and the Unspeakable”; he is currently working on books on the murders of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

Douglass, who had a friendship with Thomas Merton, is an important author. I believe that both his JFK and Gandhi books are extremely important reads for those who are engaged in the struggle for social justice. By no coincidence, I also urge people to read books by and about Merton, Malcolm, Martin, and RFK.

As noted in previous essays here, I am currently involved in the grass roots effort to protect the environment – including all life forms therein – from the destructive forces of hydrofracking. Those forces include both the “energy industry” pushing hydrofracking, and the extremely damaging process itself. But it goes beyond that. As every person who has been or presently is involved in grass roots activism knows, there are frequent stumbling blocks presented by the inevitable differences in opinion among the grass roots group/groups. That is human nature: it took place in the Civil Rights and the Anti-War movements, and in virtually every social justice movement since.

Gandhi called for a New Awakening in the human potential for growth. Most of the distractions that groups face internally are the result of “personality” conflicts. People get their feelings hurt. People have fears and anxieties. People want recognition. Even more, there is rarely only one “correct” view of any given situation: for we are all individuals, who see things from our own unique frame of reference.

What Gandhi promoted was the casting of personality quirks aside, much as a seed discards its outer shell while germinating. As individuals, we need to allow our true essence to sprout and grow. Not because of what our opposition thinks of us, nor for our allies' alone. We are confronted with a form of societal decay so powerful – the Unspeakable – that can only be overcome by our very best efforts.

In New York, that Unspeakable has sought to take root by way of hydrofracking. There are, obviously, numerous other very important issues at stake in the struggle for social justice. Other states and other communities have their own Unspeakable struggles. What they have in common is the calling upon us – you and I – to bring forth the best potential within us. For, as Gandhi said, love is the only thing that even atom bombs cannot destroy.

H2O Man

Two New Friends

“The original instructions direct that we who walk about the earth are to express a great respect and affection and a gratitude toward all the spirits that create and support life. We give a greeting and thanksgiving to the many supporters of our own lives – the plants, the animals, the water, the air, and the sun. When people cease to respect and express gratitude for these many things, then all life will be destroyed, and human life on this planet will come to anend.”
John Mohawk, Ha-de-no-sau-nee.


On Friday, I was bringing my best friend & wonderful wife home, after she spent a rough week in the hospital. As we approached our driveway, the vehicle in front of us began to slow down, and I noticed its blinker indicating it was also turning into our driveway. It had an out-of-state plate, which I did not recognize.

My driveway, which is a section of an old turnpike from the late 1700s, is long. When we reached the top, I got out to see who our visitors were, and what they wanted. It was two women, both retired university professors, who were looking for me. One, who taught English and literature, lived in central New York. In the early 1980s, I had been acquainted with her; we used to be an undefeated team in a once-popular board game known as Trivial Pursuit. The other, from the southwest, I recognized as one of the top archaeologists in North America.

They had sought me out because they had read an article that Will Pitt had posted on TruthOut, regarding my recent hunger strike. They had then followed the event on the internet site, Facebook. This pair of former-1960s politica;/social activists-turned university professors had come to offer any assistance that I might need in the struggle to protect the environment from the horrors of hydrofracking.

We talked for about 90 minutes, before I had to leave to a board meeting in Broome County, to plan future actions in the struggle. I opened the meeting with a traditional “greeting” that Onondaga Chief Paul Waterman had taught me. And then, I spoke about something that Gandhi taught: that when you are doing the right thing, for the right reasons, the right people will enter your life at exactly the right time.

And so it is.

Anti-Fracking Alert!

(Note: This is an alert going out in NYS. I told the author that I would post it on DU, in hope that people here -- including non-NYS residents -- would be willing to make the requested contacts.

I have a series of medical tests scheduled next week. I'm anticipating the "go-ahead" to engage in a second hunger strike, this time at Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s office. I hope to post an OP soon that documents why the grass roots is unhappy with Robert, who is splitting the coaltion of grass roots groups & the larger "environmental advocacy" corporations/organizations.

Thanks for your support! Your friend, Pat)


Governor Cuomo says a decision to allow Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracking might be made in as little as 8 short weeks!!!

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), in their RDSGEIS comments to the DEC, suggest 2 disturbing alternatives, both of which could endanger the Southern Tier: 1) - A "Demonstration Project" alternative in which up to 300 wells could be drilled in 3 years prior to adopting a statewide HVHF drilling program and 2) - A "Special Places Off Limits to Drilling" alternative that would protect NYC, Syracuse, Catskills, Fingerlakes, Delaware River Water Gap and Cooperstown Corridor but NOT protect the Southern Tier.

The grassroots are 100% UNITED: No FRACKING Demonstration Project, and EQUAL PROTECTION FOR ALL NEW YORKERS

Call and email Kate Sinding and Eric Goldstein (please see their contact info below) and
1. DEMAND that they retract the comments and
2. Publicly declare opposition to ANY Demonstration project, anywhere in NYS,
in an open letter to Gov. Cuomo.
4. Request that they sign the Defacto Moratorium Pledge. Accept No Excuses: Tell them that if they are truly interested in protecting us there is no reason for them to NOT sign the pledge!!!

The de facto moratorium pledge:
Given the irreparable harm that shale gas extraction could wreak on New York's environment and public health, I request that Governor Cuomo maintain DEC's de facto moratorium on Marcellus Shale horizontal hydrofracturing until there is a consensus among all local, state and federal authorities as well as potentially impacted parties that the 17 major shortcomings documented in the Withdraw the Revised Draft SGEIS Coalition Letter have been fully resolved.

The full coalition letter with over 22,000 signatures can be found at:

In addition to Robert F. Kennedy's position as lead attorney for NRDC and with Riverkeeper and Catskill Mountain Keeper, He and Kate Sinding also are members of Gov. Cuomo's Hydrofracking Advisory Panel. We Need EVERY ONE of the members of this panel to sign the pledge.

Please Call and Email at least these 4 of them. Be polite but firm:

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Esq.
Senior Attorney for Natural Resources Defense Council,
Clinical Professor/Supervising Attorney at Pace University School of Law's Environmental Litigation Clinic.
Chief Prosecuting Attorney, Riverkeeper
Webform: http://www.robertfkennedyjr.com/contact.html
Phone: 914-422-4343 (Pace University - please ask for his secretary, Mary Beth Postman)

Kate Sinding, Esq.
Deputy Director of the Urban Program, Natural Resources Defense Council
Email: ksinding@nrdc.org
Phone: 212-727-2700

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo
New York State Assembly Representative, 126th District
Email: LupardoD@assembly.state.ny.us
Phone: 607-723-9047 (Binghamton), 518-455-5431 (Albany)

Senator Thomas W. Libous
New York State Senator, 52nd District
Email: senator@senatorlibous.com
Phone: 607-773-8771 [may forward to Albany]

Eric A. Goldstein, Esq.
Environmental Director, Natural Resources Defense Council
Email: egoldstein@nrdc.org
Phone: 212-727-2700

Your Opinion, Please


“Warriors are not what you think of as warriors. The warrior is not someone who fights, because no one has the right to take the life of another. The warrior, for us, is one who sacrifices himself for the good of others.

“His task is to take care of the elderly, the defenselss, those who cannot provide for themselves, and above all, the children, the future of humanity.”
Totank Yotank (Sitting Bull); Hunkpapa Lakota

In the past two months, I have written a half-dozen or more papers for the grass roots groups I have been working with in New York and Pennsylvania. These are pro-environment, and anti-hydrofracking organizations.

While the pro-hydrofracking politicians refer to us as “tree-huggers,” and the internal gas corporation documents I've read call us “insurgents,” I tend to view us as human beings. We are university professors and high school students; doctors and lawyers; farmers and factory workers; young and old; and military veterans and other patriots.

One of the things I've noticed in the past year or so, is that many people who are becoming politically active today, do not have the past foundation of experience that some of us old-timers have. Thus, for example, I found that many intelligent people were hestitant to write a letter-to-the-editor, or had questions about the best way to approach a politician.

I made a few suggestions. There are two basic formats that increase the likelihood of a LTTE being published. If a letter to an elected representative includes a request for a personal response, to be used in LTTEs, a politician (or their staff) will usually send something more than a form letter. People can hold small “house parties” to compose letters to the press and politician. And on and on.

We are also having the experience of having more questionable individuals attempting to join our groups. This happens. A high-profile group will attrack an assortment of individuals. Some may be shy, or lack self-confidence. Some may have the types of personality disorders that disrupt group processes.And some may be from the dark side. How do you spot them? How do you deal with them? Again, some of us have experiences from the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and beyond.

How can relatively small groups best coordinate efforts with similar groups? What tensions are normal between such small groups, and some of the larger, more established environment advocacy organizations?

Other issues ranging from voter registration drives, civil disobedience, and other community organizing and political activism, also deserve close attention. These same general issues, by no coincidence, confront those grass roots groups that are engaged in other parts of the struggle for social justice. Indeed, these other groups can potentially be united to create an alliance that is essential for us to achieve in the Good Fight.

A few people have suggested that I write a small “grass roots community organizing” handbook. This might be distributed among other pro-environment, anti-hydrofracking organizations, and potentially other similar groups.

Hence, my question to you: What types of things do you think are important to include in such a book?

Thank you for your consideration.

H2O Man
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