Today, we focus on two invasions: Avangrid’s proposed fiscal invasion of NM and Israel’s physical invasion of Palestine. In each instance there are actions for you to take right now. Read on.
Retake-Rethink on Saturdays at 8:30 am on KSFR 101.1 FM or streaming live from KSFR.org, Before we get started I want to alert you about this Saturday’s Retake Our Democracy radio show. Starting tomorrow, we will begin a three-part exploration of Less is More, the remarkable explication of what a post capitalist economy and a more authentically democratic political system could look like, This is central to the work of our emerging 501c3, Rethink Our Democracy. Listen in and learn more about this important work.
We feel there is so much value to this book, that we are convening a book club on June 8 at 6pm when we will discuss the book together. To register for this event, click here. Even if you can’t find the time to read the book, you will benefit from the discussion and you can secure a good sense of the books themes and content by listening in to the radio show, which will also be video taped and posted at this link by 9am on Saturday.
We have also created a page on what Rethink Is Reading & Watching. It includes articles, books, research briefs and video outlining our path forward. It is well worth a look.
It is Campaign Time
Thank you, Bruce Roach for information on how to support Melanie Stansbury in her race to hold onto Deb Haaland’s District 1 seat. This should be an easy win for Stansbury, as the district cast over 60% of their votes for Biden in November and the “other side” has three candidates splitting the vote. But one of them, Senator Mark Moores, is waging a well-funded furiously misleading campaign.
The good news is that Stansbury is very well organized and has a well-coordinated system for supporting her campaign with opportunities to phone or text from home. Plus now you can also canvass!!! YAY. Click here for information on how you can support Melanie. This is a crucial race, as the midterm elections beckon and historically the party in power loses a ton of seats during the midterms….and we ain’t got a ton of seats to lose. Let’s keep this one!
What We Are Reading
Today each of our readings generates a call to action. We need to protect our NM turf from a fiscal invasion from a Spanish mega corporation and we must take action to protect Palestine from a bloody invasion from Israel. Late breaking news, as of 3:30pm MT Thursday, there are reports that the Israeli Defense Forces have entered Gaza. First we will explore the invasion of Palestine and then we will examine Avangrid’s efforts to extract and exploit NM.
Israel Is Effectively Operating an Apartheid State & Committing Genocide in Palestine: This Would Not Be Possible Without Our Funds and Our Political Support
Violence in Gaza and Israel is the worst since 2014. It erupted after weeks of rising Israeli-Palestinian tension in East Jerusalem with clashes at a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews. Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, began firing rockets after warning Israel to withdraw from the site. As is Israel’s wont, they have responded with punishing, seemingly indiscriminate air strikes and tank shelling with some reports that the Israeli Defense Force has sent ground troops into Gaza, a significant escalation of the conflict.
“We felt like we were in a horror movie,” said local resident Salwa Al-Attar, who escaped the bombardment with her family. “The planes were above us, and the tanks and navy were bombing – and we could not move. The children, women and men were screaming.”The BBC: “Israel Intensifies Attacks on Gaza, As Conflict Enters Fifth Day”
This looks like a massive incursion, as over 7000 Israeli reserves have been called up. The last major ground assault conducted by the IDF (in 2014) resulted in the deaths of 2,251 Palestinians, of whom 1,462 were civilians. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers were killed along with six civilians. As usual, Israel has extracted well over ten times as many casualties from the Palestinians as from Israelis. Too many Americans do not understand how inextricably our foreign policy is woven with Israeli imperialism.
For those of you seeking a bit of background on the conflict, Phyllis Bennis from The Institute for Policy Studies does an excellent job of capturing the historic context and the US role in the conflict. Click here.
For me, the conflict represents all that is bad about US foreign policy under any administration in my lifetime, policy predicated on the assumption that US interests are all that matter. Those policy goals are defined by the interests of mega corporations and their desire to exploit desperate people willing to work for most any wage and to extract resources, all in the service of profit. In the Middle East, the US wants to ensure the sustained flow of “our” oil, inconveniently found under land in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Middle East countries. We puff out our chest claiming to be seeking to expand democracy while most all of the Middle East oil producers have barely whiffed at anything approaching democracy or human rights.
In truth, there are precious few politicos with the courage to protest our support for Israel. Biden has been quoted as saying it would be “absolutely outrageous” to ever condition American “aid” upon any Israeli behavior. This is because Israel plays an important role in American imperialism, often doing the dirty work of sending “messages” to Iran, Syria, Iraq and other Middle East players, messages in the form of missiles targeting key installations and drones killing key leaders unfriendly to the USt.
US foreign policy for over 100 years has always prioritized economic hegemony over the Global South and Middle East over authentic support for the voice of the peoples of these countries. When here at home, we speak of a just transition, we must also address our foreign policy, as much of our gross domestic product, is not domestic at all, but is predicated upon human suffering and desecration of foreign lands. We will never be able to stem the flow of refugees to our borders unless and until we support restoration of authentic popular governance of the Global South. And that support must also involve a restructuring of our economic relationships with those countries, something that will be vigorously opposed by Wall St and multinational corporations in many industries.
From Santa Feans for Justice in Palestine: A Call to Action
Stop U.S. Tax Dollars from funding $3.8 billion dollars of weapons per year to Israel. Do you want your tax dollars to support an illegal military occupation that is in violation of United Nations resolutions and international law?
Join Santa Feans for Justice in Palestine at the at the main post office on Federal Place in Santa Fe on Monday, May 17, 2021 4:30-5:30pm – Tax Day – Protest the use of our tax dollars that support this illegal occupation and medical apartheid in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
What does Israel do with this money in violation of U.S. laws?
- Daily human rights abuses against Palestinians living under military occupation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip
- Prevention of free movement of Palestinians for school, work and medical care using technology manufactured in the U.S.
- Detention of and abuse of children
- Home demolitions
- Israel has rejected any responsibility for providing or even facilitating vaccines for the millions of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, despite the fact that from 1967 through the present day, Israel exercises overarching control over these areas (and despite the fact that Israel has provided vaccines for its own citizens living in illegal West Bank settlements). The average U.S. taxpayer gives $25.25 in weapons to Israel each year. Imagine if the U.S. invested $3.8 billion per year to our local communities. This is what we would see:
- 51,300 clean energy jobs
- 46,982 elementary school teachers
- 1.5 million children receiving healthcare
- 253 million COVID-19 vaccine shots
What can you do?
Write to your congressional representative and ask them to co-sponsor HR2590, introduced by Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) – the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act.
- Teresa Leger Fernandez, Congressional District 3
- Washington, D.C. Office 1432 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515Phone: (202) 225-6190 Fax: (202) 226-1528
- Santa Fe Office1611 Calle Lorca, STE A, Santa Fe, NM 87505Phone: (505) 984-8950 Fax: (505) 986-5047
- Link to email form: Click here to get to his form.
The Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act has been endorsed by more than 20 groups, including mainstays in the Palestinian rights movement like the Adalah Justice Project and Jewish Voice for Peace Action, as well as the liberal pro-Israel group Americans for Peace Now and the progressive Justice Democrats. J Street, a liberal group that supports U.S. aid to Israel but opposes Israel’s military occupation, is backing McCollum’s bill.
Make sure our community is not supporting the Deadly Exchange program which brings police, ICE, border patrol and FBI to train with Israeli soldiers, police and border agents. “Worst practices” are shared to promote and extend discriminatory and repressive policing in both countries. These include racial profiling, massive spying and surveillance, deportation and detention, and attacks on human rights defenders. Stay tuned and act today and Monday.
PRC Hearing Officer Does His Job; NM AG Fails to Do So
We’ve been reporting on this proposed merger and the deeper we dig, the uglier it gets. If you missed our earlier report outlining Avangrid’s egregious corporate behavior in Maine and Avangrid’s likely motivation for overpaying by a billion dollars to acquire PNM, click here. That post also included a most revealing video describing Avangrid’s behavior in Maine.
There are a number of reasons that Retake is so concerned about this proposed acquisition:
- It represents all that is extractive and exploitive about our capitalist economic system, with a foreign mega corporation smelling profit and sensing a politically and regulatorily favorable environment. Us, NM, the Land of Enchantment.
- There is the appearance of unethical manipulation of the media and potentially of Democratic political leadership. PNM has a track record of flooding campaign coffers in NM to buy influence and using dark money to flood our mail boxes and TVs with misleading information. Avangrid has taken this to a new level in Maine and we are beginning to see signs of misleading ads every evening during the local news. As reported by Natural Resources Council of Maine, in its CMP & Hydro-Quebec Have Spent Record-breaking $16.78M on Campaign for the CMP Corridor, Avangrid has flooded Maine with campaign donations and media buys totaling over $19 million in six months to purchase approval of their blatantly profit-driven effort to circumvent public sentiment and coerce agreement to run transmission lines through protected Maine forests.
- The entire chessboard of Spanish corporate maneuvers to extract profit from the poorest state in the nation is such a clear manifestation of capitalist greed that we need to call it out for what it is. How will we (ratepayers and our environment) possibly benefit from agreeing to this transfer of a PNM monopoly to an even less responsive corporate character? It is tiresome to be constantly fighting the good fight, for our future and our planet and every time face piles of money misrepresenting corporate plans and seducing politicians and influencers.
- It points to the critical need for NM and the nation to consider public ownership and operation of key industries like utilities, energy, internet, broadband, banking and health. These are key industries and should be operated for the public good, not for private profit. A key focus of Rethink research is focused upon ways in which NM and the US can reverse privatization by elevating the role of government and ensuring that key public functions are driven by the public good, not by corporate profit motives.
Wenesday, The ABQ Journal thought Avangrid’s proposed acquisition of PNM was so important, they placed it on the front page. The report notes numerous problems with the failure of Avangrid subsidiaries in New York, Connecticut, and Maine to comply with regulatory oversight, adequately prepare for emergency preparations, and grossly fail to meet customer needs.
We’ve reported on how Central Maine Power, one of Avangrid’s subsidiaries, is spending millions to mislead Maine voters about their plan to run transmission lines through the pristine Maine mountains. But, yesterday, The Journal reported that JD Powers has published an annual study for more than two decades on business customer satisfaction for nearly 90 utilities across the U.S. CMP has received the lowest ranking in the nation for three years in a row. In Connecticut, Avangrid’s performance is even worse. The Journal reported that Ashley Schannauer, the PNM Hearing Examiner, noted a myriad of indicators of poor performance and duplicitous dealings with regulatory commissions. From The ABQ Journal: “PNM Buyer’s Track Record Snarls Merger“
“Schannauer cited a May 6 decision by Connecticut regulators to fine Avangrid’a electric subsidiary, United Illuminating Co., $2.1 million for failing to adequately prepare for and respond to Hurricane Isaias, which left hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses without power for da\s last August. Connecticut’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (UI) also ordered a $1.3 million reduction in profit allowances for UI, which serves 340,000 local electric customers, plus a management audit of the utility by independent Àrms, according to local news reports. After reading about the fines on UI, Schannauer said, he researched U.S. Securities Exchange Commission Filings and found a ´hostµ of other regulatory actions against three other Avangrid utilities in Maine and New York totaling about $23 million in penalties and disallowances for cost recovery imposed over the past year and a half. ´That’s $25 million in penalties and disallowances for poor service,’ Schannauer said. ´All of this is news to me.’ “The ABQ Journal: “PNM Buyer’s Track Record Snarls Merger”
If that isn’t enough, Retake dug a bit deeper and found that in 2017 Avangrid admitted to six violations of transmission operations reliability standards at three of its subsidiaries. The violations posed a moderate risk to the reliability of the power system, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission who then levied a $450,000 find on Avangrid subsidiaries Central Maine Power, New York State Electric and Gas, and Rochester Gas and Electric. Not only did they fail to meet transmission standards, they also failed to immediately report unplanned outages to regulators, leaving the grid vulnerable to instability, uncontrolled separation or cascading outages.
CMP, NYSEG and RG&E also violated a requirement to conduct a real-time assessment of their transmission facilities at least every 30 minutes, failing to request that their respective regional grid operator perform the assessment on their behalf while their capabilities were down, the notice said. This increased the risk that the utilities and their grid operators would have been unprepared to effectively8 manage grid reliability. No wonder Avangrid enjoys such low customer satisfaction, they consistently place profit over customer service and grid reliability the two things that are a core expectation in awarding a monopoly to a private utility operator. Yet, Avangrid not only fails on both of these expectations, they do their best to hide their failures and cosmeticize with false advertising their goals. The duplicity offered in Avangrid’s application and its failure to even reveal more truthfully their track record to the PRC led Ashley to state:
” ‘The joint applicants· failure to disclose this information to the commission in this proceeding is troubling and is also relevant to the credibility of their witnesses· testimony and transparency by which Avangrid and PNM would conduct their business in New Mexico if the merger is approved,’ Schannauer wrote in the order.”The ABQ Journal: “PNM Buyer’s Track Record Snarls Merger”
In this context, it is utterly inconceivable that the NM Attorney General and the Coalition for Clean and Affordable Environment (CCAE) have filed briefs supporting Avangrid’s acquisition of PNM. How does our State’s top enforcer of consumer protection sign off on the acquisition of PNM and the installation of a distant megacorporation with such a track record of failure in consumer protection?
You have to wonder what private conversations were had to have teased out the AG’s approval, given the strident concerns raised by the PRC Hearing Examiner and deeply flawed track record in Connecticut, New York and Maine. If past performance is the best predictor of future performance, you’d have thought that the AG would have sought far stronger and binding assurances and commitments from Avangrd. We expect mega corporations to behave like mega corporations and dissemble, cheat and connive for more and more profit. But you also expect your AG to protect you from such avarice, not align with it.
And how could CCAE continue to continue to claim that they use strategic advocacy, scientific analysis, and grassroots organizing to advance clean energy policy and programs” while aligning supporting this acquisition. The CCAE has an interesting membership that includes most grasstops environmental groups in NM, including the Sierra Club, Conservation Voters New Mexico, and 350NM? How can can these grasstop orgs so aggregiously ignore the rights of ratepayers? How can 350NM continue to bear the mantle of Bill McKibben while supporting Avangrid? Interesting.
Stay tuned. As PRC hearing dates are set and dates for public comment published we will provide info on how best to weigh in. But in the meantime, maybe it is time to write to and call the Attorney General and ask why he has failed to stand up for NM consumers.
- Santa Fe AG Office Phone: (505) 490-4060
- ABQ AG Office Phone: (505) 717-3500
- Email for Attorney General Hector Balderas: firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s it for today.
In solidarity and hope,
Paul & Roxanne
Categories: Foreign Policy