Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Advocates for Richmond Youth Pop Up Drop-in Center

Saturday, December 16th 2017, from 1-7pm, at the Trinity Family Life Center (3601 Dill Road, Richmond VA), Advocates for Richmond Youth will be holding a pop-up drop-in center for youth ages 14-24 who are experiencing housing instability, homelessness, or just need resources to get on their feet. Free food, clothing, hygiene items, and resources. Workshops will be offered every hour from 2pm, and include topics like housing rights, make-up, self-care, and succeeding at job interviews.

Advocates for Richmond Youth are a team of young adult researchers who have been homeless themselves, and are conducting a survey on homeless youth in Richmond. See their Facebook page for more info.

To get to the venue by bus, take the #34 from the transfer plaza. For more info and to RSVP, see the link

Anti-Racist Roleplay with SURJ RVA: Preparing for the Holidays

Are you going to have to deal with some iteration of racist relatives this holiday season? Are you tired of just letting it go when your family members say something awful? Well, Showing Up for Racial Justice SURJ Richmond has some tips for having that talk.

Tuesday, December 19th 2017, from 7-9pm, in the basement of 1010 North Thompson Street, Richmond VA, Richmond's chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) is holding a session to practice holiday conversations about race, share advice and strategies, and more.

Free, open to the public. Free childcare is available, but please contact childcare.surj.rva@gmail.com if you plan to use it. For more info and to RSVP, see the link.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Stacy Lovelace: report on State Water Control Board meeting day one, and Dominion Energy tactics

Stacy Lovelace for Blue Virginia reports: "Dominion's Thuggish Tricks on Full Display on Day #1 of Atlantic Coast Pipeline Hearing." 12 December 2017. 

Stacy Lovelace's account of yesterday's State Water Control Board meeting, day one of two days of meetings during which the board is considering permits for Dominion Energy's fracked gas Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The most significant details pertain to the behavior of Dominion's private security agents, who seemed to be making an effort to photograph and film anti-pipeline demonstrators, with the possible collusion of the police.

It's not illegal to film or photograph a non-consenting person, provided the subject is in public and it isn't an upskirt shot. However, I think we can take this as a sign of what to expect, from Dominion's hired security and from the police. We know from campaigns like the Standing Rock Sioux's fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline that environmental movements face surveillance, infiltration, and sabotage by police and mercenaries. Don't let it intimidate you, but also don't forget that you will be watched.

RTD: North Anna Nuclear Generating Station shut down due to water leak

Robert Zullo of the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports: "North Anna nuclear reactor in Louisa County shuts down after water leak." 11 December 2017. 

Dominion Energy shut down one of two reactors at the North Anna Nuclear Generating Station yesterday after what it described as a small water leak. A representative for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said that on-site inspectors will be overseeing the issue, and that at this time the agency sees no need for a special inspection.

This is probably not a substantial issue, but considering the current struggle against Dominion in regards to their planned 613 mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, I thought it was salient to remind everybody of some significant facts regarding the North Anna station. Namely: during construction in the 1970s, Dominion discovered a seismic fault line at the site of the plant, which substantially increased risk of earthquake damage. In 1977, the state fined the utility $32,500 for attempting to obscure the fact of the fault line. As of 2010, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimated that the site's annual risk of experiencing an earthquake powerful enough to cause core damage was approximately 1 in 23,000: by contrast, the annual odds of being struck by lightning in the U.S. is about 1 in 700,000, according to National Geographic. IE, the risk is greater than that of a stereotypically rare but plausible scenario. In 2011, tremors from the a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in nearby Mineral tripped emergency sensors and caused both reactors to go offline. The quake also cracked some buildings on the site, and shifted stored spent nuclear fuel.

Why bring this up in the context of the ACP? Mostly because the case of the Lake Anna facility demonstrates that Dominion has lied about the safety of its infrastructure before, and escaped significant consequences for what should have been considered criminal negligence. We should be skeptical about their safety claims.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Candlelight Vigil Against the Pipelines

Tonight, from 6:30-8:30pm on Governor's Street at the Virginia Capitol (between East Main and East Broad, Richmond VA), the Chesapeake Climate Action Network is holding a candlelight vigil against two proposed gas pipelines, the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines. Last week, the Department of Environmental Quality rubber-stamped necessary permits for the Mountain View pipeline despite the lack of substantive environmental review. The state Water Control Board is meeting today and tomorrow to decide if it will permit the Atlantic Coast pipeline.

McAuliffe has the power to put a stop to both projects, but he's chosen to heed the big donors in the energy sector. The only way to flip him is to demonstrate such overwhelming and disruptive opposition to the pipelines that he understands that his continuing support will incur serious political consequences.

For more info and to RSVP, see the event page. If you have questions or can't find the vigil, call Jamshid Bakhtiari at 757-386-8107.

Proposed change to Labor Standards Act would allow employers to steal tips

This Monday (December 4th 2017), the Trump Department of Labor released a proposed rule to rescind portions of its tip regulations. Here is the Economic Policy Institute's statement on the change and its implications. Essentially: the new language says that provided servers are paid minimum wage (most aren't, now), employers can take their tips. And not just take their tips to distribute them among the back-of-house staff who don't make tips— just pocket them, for whatever purpose, including giving them to shareholders.

Customers in the US are expected to tip because restaurant owners are allowed to pay their staff less than regular minimum wage; the federal minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.13 an hour. Customers are supposed to make up the rest in tips. Under these new rules, the food service industry basically gets to go "psych, we're paying $7.25 an hour now!" and treat all tips like random gifts to the business. Say you go eat at a Waffle House; the $3 you leave for the waiter is so that she gets paid, it's not a random $3 goodwill donation to the owners of Waffle House.


The restaurant lobby is going to argue that these rules are good, because back-of-house workers like cooks and dishwashers are poorly paid. And that part is true, $7.25 an hour is not enough to live on. You know what would actually fix that, though? Raising the minimum wage and requiring restaurants to pay more for labor.


The public comment period on the proposed rules change is open until January 4th, 2018. You can read the proposal in the Federal Register, and submit a formal comment, through this link

Transmasculine Support Group at Diversity Richmond

This has been sitting in my drafts since October— my apologies on the delay.

Diversity Richmond, our LGBTQ community center, has a new support group for transmasculine people. The group meets on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month, from 7-8:30pm, at Diversity Richmond (1407 Sherwood Avenue, Richmond VA). Come out to meet new people and learn more about issues affecting the community. Must be 18 years or older and transmasculine, no RSVP required.

For more info, you can email info@diversityrichmond.org or rdb2348@email.vccs.edu.

Tonight: tell the Richmond City Council that we want the Confederate statues taken down.

Tonight, Monday December 11th 2017, the Richmond City Council is having a regular meeting from 6-9pm at city hall (900 East Broad Street, Richmond VA). 

At this meeting, the council will be voting on a resolution to ask that the General Assembly give the city the authority to tear down the monuments to white supremacy that litter our town. At the moment, it is against state law for any locality to remove any war memorial, once erected. This rule was originally added to the Code of Virginia in the 1950s, and protected only Confederate monuments, but was amended in the 1990s to include all factions and all wars. The Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality (my org) and the Richmond Democratic Socialists of America are calling for people to come out in support. 

Street parking only. The resolution in question will come up later in the meeting, so if you can only come for a portion, come later. 

For more info and to RSVP, see this link

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Two vital State Water Control Board meetings this week

We've got two important State Water Control Board meetings coming up tomorrow and Tuesday (December 11th and 12th 2017). The Water Control Board will be considering- and attempting to approve- permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Last week, they rubber-stamped approvals for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which has not yet had a substantive environmental impact review. Go over to No ACP, Free Nelson, and Appalachian Voices for more information. It's very important that the public show up to oppose this pipeline; come for a day, come for an hour, just come for however long you can.

Both the December 11th and 12th meetings will begin at 9:30am, and be held at the Trinity Family Life Center (3601 Dill Road, Richmond VA).

If the meeting regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline is any indication, there will be a substantial police presence.

Pipelines and other fossil fuel related infrastructure are dangerous. Not just in terms of leaks and explosions, although those things will definitely happen and definitely devastate the communities and ecosystems around the project, but in terms of the existential threat posed by climate change. Every multi-billion-dollar pipeline like this is the energy industry doubling-down on climate-change-accelerating power sources. Do you think Dominion Power will bother investing in renewables if it's got a pipeline to send natural gas to harbors for export? Of course not; renewables just aren't a substantive part of their plans, not because they're untenable, but because they will be somewhat less profitable during the transition. We can't just sit by while the architects of the climate apocalypse speed up the disaster.

Friday, December 1, 2017

"The Virginia Roots of Today's Radical Right and the Crisis of American Democracy," with Professor Nancy MacLean

Wednesday, December 13th 2017, from 7-9pm at VCU's Cabell Library (901 Park Avenue, Richmond VA), historian and author Nancy MacLean, of Duke University, will give a talk based on her new book, which asserts that the modern far right traces its ideological roots to the capitalist economist James McGill Buchanan. 

Free, open to the public, but you must register. 

To register and for more information, see this link