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Chilean Democracy; Court Upholding Laws That Protect People

6:17 am in Uncategorized by Ruth Calvo

Santiago City Park, now owned by the people

It’s with a great deal of nostalgia that I see a court in Chile moving to protect the public from environmental damage by ruling that more proof of a dam project’s value be provided before it is approved.  While the dam project was projected to supply more electricity, and therefore development, the area is a sensitive one and permanent damage may be done.

It was my privilege to visit Chile on a Habitat for Humanity build some years back, and learn how much our imposition of a dictator, Pinochet, on the populace of that country had marred Chilean feeling toward western alliances.   We do ourselves no favor, a lesson driven home there, by making sheer economic development the object of our actions abroad.   While this country has advanced a bit from the Pinochet days, we still make the mistake of subjecting natural riches to the corporate wish to override everything for profits.

Another problem the dam project presents, besides despoiling the land, is encountered by the need to build power lines from the remote area to industrial recipients of the power.  The court has not been able to ascertain that advantages outweigh the drawbacks.

The government says the dams are needed to meet the country’s increasing demand for electricity.

But environmentalists say they will damage the area’s fragile ecology and its tourist potential.

They also say the energy produced will be used mainly for the country’s mining industry.

(snip)

They drain lakes in a region that is famous for its rugged beauty – a landscape of glaciers, ice-fields, mountains and fjords.

The dam project, which is a joint venture between a Chilean company and a Spanish-owed one, will cost some $3bn (£1.85bn) and is designed to generate 2,750MW of power.

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Wingnut Law; Individuals Financially Responsible for Corporate Ooopsies

8:00 am in Uncategorized by Ruth Calvo

During the past decade of wingnut control, a lot of laws have been slipped in that are only now beginning to take effect. In a recent event in N. Texas, we’ve discovered that in cases of a corporation making an error that costs you, you get to pay.

Recently a transmitter blew outside some Dallas area homes, damaging appliances by the power surge that occurred. The owner of the transmitter is Oncor, a dominant power firm in the area. One homeowner who lost thousands of dollars in appliances that are essential to her everyday operations of her home, Ms. Fagan, expected that since the company responsible was the cause of her damages, the company would replace them.
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I Say Person, You Say Corporation

8:00 am in Financial Crisis by Ruth Calvo

That legislation has been introduced to counter the coathanger court’s recent decision giving corporations the right to finance campaigns is reassuring. There is reason though to suspect the Supremes will still throw a monkey wrench into campaigns anyway, since they’ve been adamant about rendering decisions that favor business over individuals.

There is more than just a moral divide between human rights advocates and the court. There is a mindset that I found laid out really well in an op-ed in the NYT recently. Warning: this is really somewhat convoluted, as is so much of legal language.

The basic opposition, the one without which the First Amendment could not get off the ground, is the opposition between speech and action. Absent the assumption that the two can be distinguished, the First Amendment makes no sense as we can see by imagining the absurdity of a First Amendment that read, “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of action.” Regulating and restricting action is what governments do; take that responsibility away and government has no scope of operation.

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