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Fracking opponents occupy governor’s office

With the State Senate set to vote on a bill regulating fracking on Thursday, opponents say they’ll continue an occupation of Governor Quinn’s office into a third day, demanding he meet with residents of areas that would be affected.

Two activists have been arrested in the sit-in.

The occupation will continue Thursday, said Angie Viands of Rising Tide Chicago, who was arrested Tuesday evening when she refused to leave.  The protestors want a moratorium on fracking in Illinois.

On Friday, Illinois Peoples Action will hold an demonstration in support of a moratorium.

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Asian carp DNA hits take a leap

DNA evidence of Asian carp beyond the electrical barrier designed to keep them out of Lake Michigan “appears to have grown ten-fold over the last year,” reports Dan Egan of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

One day of sampling this spring yield positive results in 15 percent of samples taken, compared to postive results in 1.5 percent of samples taken last year.  Most of the positive hits were in Lake Calumet.

The Army Corps of Engineers argues that the DNA material could be transported by a variety of means, but scientists say the overall pattern of positive results over three years “is powerful evidence that at least some live fish are swimming above the barrier,” Egan reports.

Meanwhile the Corps is undertaking a five-year study evaluating a wide range of options – “from doing nothing to inventing new poisons to experimenting with music, sound guns, and bubbles underwater,” according to Henry Henderson of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The Corps also identified scores of invasive species that could infest the Great Lakes or the Mississippi River system via the Chicago waterway system, including nearly 50 that are impervious to the electical barrier.

Authorized in 2007 and funded in 2009, the study wasn’t started until November 2010.  The Corps recently said its release, expected in 2015, could be delayed further.

Senators Richard Durbin and Debbie Stabenow have introduced legislation mandating that the Corps complete its work within 18 months, but it hasn’t moved in Congress.

Noting that the electric barrier is also susceptible to power outages, Henderson writes, “The Corps needs to get serious about the hard work of figuring out how to install a permanent physical barrier into the system that addresses legitimate commercial concerns while finally stopping the movement of all invasive species between the Mississippi River system and Great Lakes, not just the big bad Asian carp.”

Pilsen surveyed on future of coal plant site

Pilsen residents will fill out surveys at a community meeting Wednesday, describing what they want to see on the site of a local coal plant slated for closing.

It’s part of an ongoing survey being conducted by the Pilsen Alliance among its membership and at neighborhood churches and schools, said executive director Nelson Soza. The meeting is Wednesday, June 20 at 6:30 p.m. at Casa Aztlan, 1831 S. Racine.

The Alliance wants to present its findings at a hearing of the city’s task force on reuse of the Fisk and Crawford plants next week, Soza said.  The task force is holding community hearings on June 26 at the National Museum of Mexican Art and on June 28 at the Little Village High School.

Soza is among several community representatives on the task force, along with representatives of the city and Midwest Generation, which owns the Fisk and Crawford plants.  He says discussions have been “very positive and very respectful,” with “everybody generally headed in the same direction.”

The task force is charged with sketching out a general framework for redevelopment, he points out. “The challenges will come when the details start being put down,” following the task force report, expected next month.

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In Benton Harbor, ‘Occupy the PGA’

Hundreds of Benton Harbor residents are expected Saturday for a march on the Senior PGA Championship tournament at the controversial Harbor Shores golf course, demanding the PGA donate 25 percent of tournament profits to the city and publicly acknowledge the new golf course’s “theft of public parkland for private profit.”

They’ll dress in black for a “death march” – symbolizing “the death of democracy in Benton Harbor,” according to local civil rights leader Rev. Edward Pinkney – and fly hundreds of kites bearing the words, “Occupy the PGA.”

The march from City Hall, 200 Wall Street, to Jean Klock Park Beach starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 26. Benton Harbor is about 100 miles from Chicago on Lake Michigan.

Three holes of the golf course were built on 23 acres of the city’s lakefront park by a nonprofit development company backed by Whirlpool, which has its corporate headquarters in Benton Harbor.  Dunes were excavated and hundreds of trees were removed to assure golfers a view of the lake.

Ultimately it’s supposed to be the centerpiece of a $500 million development with condos and high-end retail.

Major manufacturing operations by Whirlpool – and thousands of jobs — were moved overseas starting in the 1980s. Today Benton Harbor, which is 92 percent African American, is one of Michigan’s poorest cities.

Critics say Whirlpool wants to drive out blacks and convert Benton Harber to a resort town for wealthy weekenders.

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Video: Firing range in Calumet wetlands

Take two minutes and watch this video on the police firing range now planned next to sensitive Calumet area wetlands.  It’s by poet and activist Acie Cargill, and it’s an effective piece of grassroots advocacy.

If you’ve been following the issue through written descriptions here or elsewhere, it will give a good picture of  the area being impacted; if you haven’t been following the issue, you’re likely to get interested.

(I like Acie’s rendition of Can’t Stop Loving You, too; nice to see folks out dancing.)

In Millennium Reserve, a firing range?

Conservationists say they were “blindsided” when Mayor Emanuel resurrected a proposal to build a police firing range on the Southeast Side, just days after he joined in announcing the area would be part of a massive Millennium Reserve open space project.

The 33-acre firing range site is in “the heart” of what’s being called the Calumet Core, slated for the first phase of environmental renovation and trail-building under the Millennium Reserve, said Carolyn Marsh of the Chicago Audubon Society.

“It’s sad that our politicians, and particularly our new mayor, seem to be hypocritical on this issue,” Marsh said.

Days after the December 9 Millennium Reserve announcement, Emanuel requested the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to take up a dormant proposal to lease the site to the city.

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Coal ash in Lake Michigan, and more

The Sierra Club reports that toxic coal ash is being dumped into Lake Michigan after a retaining bluff collapsed at a power plant in Wisconsin.  Coal ash contains a variety of toxic substances, depending on the type of coal used, including arsenic, lead, mercury, dioxins, carcinogens and mutagens.  The U.S. Senate is considering a bill passed by the House to block the EPA from cracking down on coal ash in the water supply.

Peoples World profiles Jane Edburg, lead organizer at the South Halsted Unemployed Action Center.  Not previously an activist, Edburg became involved when she lost her shipping clerk position with a Chicago photo lab manufacturer after 32 years with the company – and after losing her unemployment benefits after 99 weeks, while sending out hundreds of resumes and job applications.

The center helps unemployed workers apply for jobs and benefits – and pushes elected officials for action on the jobs crisis.

Wal-Mart marches on in Chicago, but the company’s critics remain, reports Kari Lydersen at Working In These Times.  They say that despite recent p.r. victories, the corporation’s latest move dropping health coverage for part-time workers and increasing premiums shows that Wal-Mart is still “a cut-throat company” that drives down the standard of living.

Finally, a downstate blog posts the Notice of Eviction that Occupy Springfield served on lobbyists in the state capitol.  Great photos, too.

Questions on recycling and privatization

With a pilot privatized recycling program set to launch Monday, the Chicago Recycling Coalition is concerned that residents haven’t been fully informed about changes in the program – and that “managed competition” with city workers will be fair and transparent.

“The first weeks could be a little bumpy,” said Mike Nowak of CRC.  Residents could be confused by possible schedule changes and may not understand if their recyclables are rejected due to contamination under a contract provision with private haulers, he said.

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  • Telling people’s stories, an ethnic media success September 2, 2015
        By Stephen Franklin Community Media Workshop   A 3-year-old child died on a plane from Chicago to Poland. This, Magdalena Pantelis instantly knew, was a story her readers would care about. But she needed more detail to write about it for the Polish Daily News, the nation’s oldest daily newspaper in Polish, founded Jan. […]
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