Arizmendi Bakery’s Bread-Based, Worker-Owned Movement

Everyone is an owner at cooperatives like Arizmendi.

by Grace Li • 11/21/2019 (

Photo by Grace Li

If the United States decided its presidency based on a popular vote, Donald Trump wouldn’t be in the White House right now. It’s something that Sue Lopez, a worker-owner at Arizmendi Bakery, thinks about when talking about Arizmendi’s cooperative working business model.

“It’s kind of important to get back to the basics of when people’s voices count,” Lopez says.

Arizmendi Bakery has been in San Francisco since 2000, boasting two locations in the city — on 9th Avenue in the Inner Sunset and on Valencia Street in the Mission — and four more in the Bay Area. If you visit the bakery, you’ll find sourdough croissants, tea breads, and some of the best scones in city. 

You’ll also find a unique business model that’s gaining popularity across the Bay Area and beyond: Worker-owned cooperatives, which came back into modern purview in the 1960s, are gaining traction for their anti-capitalist, compromise-heavy structures that promise equity for workers over big bosses. Organizations like Project Equity, which helps prevent baby boomer-owned businesses from closing following owners’ retirement by converting them into cooperatives, are leading the charge.

Arizmendi has an association of its own that’s been giving rise to more Bay Area cooperatives, including construction and landscape businesses. But it got its start from the Cheeseboard, a Berkeley-based cooperative that gave Arizmendi its first recipes, first bucket of starter dough, and thousands of dollars to initially fund the business. Since then, the bakery has flourished with its long history of worker equity and delicious baked goods.

The way the cooperative works can be deceptively simple: At its 9th Avenue location, its 21 worker-owners meet once a month to make decisions as a team. It’s one vote per person. Everyone has an equal say in the type of oven they might want to buy (gas or electric?), in the new products they’re rolling out for the holiday line (are the pie crusts flaky enough?), and in virtually any decision that will impact the future of the bakery.

“Everyone has a say in what goes on. There’s no seniority,” Lopez says. “It’s all equal pay at each bakery depending on the performance of each bakery.”

Even though the cooperative is based on equity in pay and in voice, it doesn’t mean that everyone will always agree. With no one to “pull rank,” conversations between 21 equal owners can take a while to resolve. Lopez says that they’ve been struggling with deciding on an oven for over a year.

But that’s part of the appeal of a cooperative. Long conversations can be grueling, but many times, they’re better than no conversation at all.

“There’s this capitalist streak of just one person. One person is running things. One person is the leader,” Lopez says. “We’re not socialized to compromise with each other.”

Moreover, the model has its creative perks. At another bakery, worker-owners might be subject to the whims of a manager’s vision. But in the eight years Edhi Rotandi has been working at Arizmendi, Rotandi has been able to pitch some of his own baking experiments as menu additions. A self-proclaimed “bread geek,” Rotandi brought his sourdough croissants to one of the board meetings in 2012. As with any new menu item, his croissants went through tasting and feedback.

“One of the earlier iterations of the croissants — one of my colleagues said it just tasted like a baguette with butter,” Rotandi recalls. “It was a little bit rough, but my technique at the time was less refined. But it was a good input. And I learned to work on it more, and it’s better.” Since then, his pet project has evolved into an Arizmendi favorite. You can order it plain, or with chocolate.

Before Arizmendi, Rotandi used to work as a baker for French pastry shops. And even before that, he was an electrical engineer. But Arizmendi’s unique business model was the right fit for him. New ideas are always encouraged at Arizmendi.

“We are independent,” Rotandi says. “We can do whatever we want.”

Now, Rotandi’s part of a quiet movement that’s bringing worker-based cooperatives to the table. With fresh breads and flaky pies, Arizmendi is leading in its own kind of revolution.

Grace Li covers arts and culture for SF Weekly. You can reach her at

Ta-Nehisi Coates: The Cancellation of Colin Kaepernick

“Cancel culture” has always existed — for the powerful, at least. Now, social media has democratized it..

By Ta-Nehisi Coates (

Mr. Coates is the author of “Between the World and Me.”

  • Nov. 22, 20199
The former N.F.L. quarterback Colin Kaepernick at a workout for talent scouts and the media in Riverdale, Ga., on Nov. 16.
The former N.F.L. quarterback Colin Kaepernick at a workout for talent scouts and the media in Riverdale, Ga., on Nov. 16.Credit…Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

We are being told of the evils of “cancel culture,” a new scourge that enforces purity, banishes dissent and squelches sober and reasoned debate. But cancel culture is not new. A brief accounting of the illustrious and venerable ranks of blocked and dragged Americans encompasses Sarah Good, Elijah Lovejoy, Ida B. Wells, Dalton Trumbo, Paul Robeson and the Dixie Chicks. What was the Compromise of 1877, which ended Reconstruction, but the cancellation of the black South? What were the detention camps during World War II but the racist muting of Japanese-Americans and their basic rights?

Thus any sober assessment of this history must conclude that the present objections to cancel culture are not so much concerned with the weapon, as the kind of people who now seek to wield it.

Until recently, cancellation flowed exclusively downward, from the powerful to the powerless. But now, in this era of fallen gatekeepers, where anyone with a Twitter handle or Facebook account can be a publisher, banishment has been ostensibly democratized. This development has occasioned much consternation. Scarcely a day goes by without America’s college students being reproached for rejecting poorly rendered sushi or spurning the defenders of statutory rape.

Speaking as one who has felt the hot wrath of Twitter, I am not without sympathy for the morally panicked who fear that the kids are not all right. But it is good to remember that while every generation believes that it invented sex, every preceding generation forgets that it once believed the same thing.

Besides, all cancellations are not created equal. Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Brett Kavanaugh at his Supreme Court confirmation hearings of sexual assault, was inundated with death threats, forced from her home and driven into hiding. Dave Chappelle, accused of transphobia, collected millions from Netflix for a series of stand-up specials and got his feelings hurt.

It would be nice to live in a more forgiving world, one where dissenting from groupthink does not invite exile and people’s occasional lapses are not held up as evidence of who they are. But if we are to construct such a world, we would do well to leave the slight acts of cancellation effected in the quad and cafe, and proceed to more illustrious offices.

The N.F.L. is revered in this country as a paragon of patriotism and chivalry, a sacred trust controlled by some of the wealthiest men and women in America. For the past three years, this sacred trust has executed, with brutal efficiency, the cancellation of Colin Kaepernick. This is curious given the N.F.L.’s moral libertinism; the league has, at various points, been a home for domestic abuserschild abusers and open racists.

And yet it seems Mr. Kaepernick’s sin — refusing to stand for the national anthem — offends the N.F.L.’s suddenly delicate sensibilities. And while the influence of hashtags should not be underestimated, the N.F.L. has a different power at its fingertips: the power of monopoly. Effectively, Mr. Kaepernick’s cancellation bars him from making a living at a skill he has been honing since childhood.

It is true that he has found gainful employment with Nike. But only so much solace can be taken in this given that Mr. Kaepernick’s opponents occupy not just board rooms and owner’s boxes, but the White House. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these N.F.L. owners, when somebody disrespects our flag to, to say, ‘Get that son of a [expletive] off the field right now,’” President Trump said in 2017. The N.F.L. has since dutifully obeyed.

Perhaps it is shocking for some to see the president of the United States endorse the cancellation of a pro football player, like he endorsed the cancellation of Hillary Clinton (“Lock her up”), and of Ilhan Omar (“Send her back”). But it is precisely this kind of capricious and biased use of institutional power that has birthed the cancel culture practiced by campus protesters and online. But whereas the wrongdoing of elite institutions was once hidden from public view, in the era of Donald Trump it is all there to be seen.

A sobering process that began with the broadcast beatings of civil rights marchers at Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma in 1965, then accelerated with the recorded police brutality against Rodney King, has achieved its zenith with the social media sharing of the executions of Walter ScottLaquan McDonald and Daniel Shaver.

Mr. Trump’s boasting of sexual assault proved no barrier to the White House. Roger Ailes’s career as a media exec was but a cover for his true calling, sexual coercion. Bill Cosby, once exalted as America’s dad, was unmasked as a mass rapist.

The new cancel culture is the product of a generation born into a world without obscuring myth, where the great abuses, once only hinted at, suspected or uttered on street corners, are now tweeted out in full color. Nothing is sacred anymore, and, more important, nothing is legitimate — least of all those institutions charged with dispensing justice. And so, justice is seized by the crowd.

This is suboptimal. The choice now would seem to be between building egalitarian institutions capable of withstanding public scrutiny, or further retreat into a dissembling fog. The N.F.L. has chosen the latter option. First there was the notion that Mr. Kaepernick was not good enough to play in the league. When this fiction collapsed under the weight of injury and journeymen pulled off the streets, the N.F.L. conjured up a distraction. Whatever one thinks of Jay-Z’s partnership with the league, what it achieved was the replacement of the name of the N.F.L. commissioner, Roger Goodell, by Jay-Z’s headlines.

And then last week there was the rushed “tryout,” the details of which are still murky. But what followed was a debate over Mr. Kaepernick’s comportment, attire and what he had to say. The debate helped obscure this central fact — a multibillion-dollar monopoly is, at this very hour, denying a worker the right to ply his trade and lying about doing so.

It has been said that Colin Kaepernick missed an opportunity, that no matter how crooked the bargain, if he were truly serious about getting a job, he would have acceded to the N.F.L.’s demands. But Mr. Kaepernick is not fighting for a job. He is fighting against cancellation. And his struggle is not merely his own — it is the struggle of Major Taylor, Jack Johnson, Craig Hodges and Muhammad Ali.

This isn’t a fight for employment at any cost. It is a fight for a world where we are not shot, or shunned, because the masters of capital, or their agents, do not like our comportment, our attire or what we have to say.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is the author of “Between the World and Me” and, most recently, “The Water Dancer.”

Articles ~ Actions ~ Events for Sunday, 12/1 – Wednesday, 12/4 (from Adrienne Fong)

Hope Everyone is SAFE!

Am not back posting on a regular basis

– Please post your events on Indybay:

    Thank you to all who are – See Indybay for other events.

ACCESSIBILITY: Please include Accessibility Information on events! 


A. Violent explosion in Afrin  – November 29, 2019

B. Israel to build 11,000 new illegal housing units in Jerusalem  – November 29, 2019

C. Dozens of CCSF part-time instructors lose benefits, jobs after spring class cuts  – November 28, 2019

D. Abby Martin- Netanyahu Should Be Indicted for War Crimes! ‘Gaza Fights for Freedom!’ –November 23, 2019

E. Battle brews within SF police union over leadership style  – November 18, 2019


1. Stop the EPA from putting farmworkers and their families in danger!

2. Stop the Evictions of Chronically Mentally Ill Residents of South Van Ness Manor!

3. Demand Congress support climate-displaced communities.


Sunday, December 1, – Wednesday, December 4

Sunday, December 1

World AIDS Day

1. Sunday, 9:30am – 11:00am, UUSF Forum: Hong Kong: The world’s eyes are focused on Hong Kong, what is really going on there?

Unitarian Universalist Society – SF
1187 Franklin @ Geary

Hong Kong: The world’s eyes are focused on Hong Kong, what is really going on there? (The first of 2 discussions exploring different perspectives on the upheaval in Hong Kong.) Two natives of Hong Kong and long time residents of the U.S., James Hsue and Johnson Choi will speak about their views of what is happening in Hong Kong and, especially, take issue with U.S. media’s representation of the upheaval there.


2. Sunday, 10:30am – 12:30pm, Town Hall Meeting on Hong Kong (China)

6501 Telegraph

Sunday morning at the Marxist Library

Sen Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep Jim McGovern (D-MA) are sponsoring the “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019,” but many believe that the U.S. should not be interfering in the internal affairs of China. After a brief introduction by ICSS member Eugene E Ruyle, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies at Cal State Long Beach, and perhaps a few additional speakers, we will have an open discussion of the issue with all opinions welcome.


3. Sunday, 1:30pm – 4:00pm, World AIDS Day film screening & discussion of “5B”

330 Ellis St.

At the heart of the HIV/AIDS crisis and widespread hysteria, a single number and letter designated a ward on the fifth floor of San Francisco General Hospital, the first in the world designed specifically to treat AIDS patients. The 5B nurses’ compassion and consideration of holistic well-being amounted to a small miracle amid a devastating epidemic and the ensuing panic about risk and infection that followed in its wake.


4, Sunday, 3:00pm – 7:00pm, Mercado de Cambio/tha’ Po Sto-Holiday Art Market 10th Annual

East Side Arts Alliance

2277 International Blvd.

$1 -$20 – no one turned away

Poverty, Indigenous, Youth, Elder, and Disability skolaz- altho struggling to even BE/Stay /Live in this stolen colonized Ohlone /Lisjan Land (Oakland) will be putting on our 10th annual revolutionary art market for the holidaze!

Launched with Indigenous Prayer from From revolutionary Hip Hop to the debut of a film by Youth Poverty Skolaz from Deecolonize Academy called “Animal Eviction” to the release of Volume #14 of Decolonewz on Black Land Theft from The Amazon to Oakland – original art & crafts for sale from over 30 indigenous and poverty skola artists-

Yummy food for donation and there will be Po’Kies & the Debut of PoNuts!!! – we will have a whole afternoon of fun.

Hosts: POOR Magazine + 7 Other groups


Monday, December 2

5. Monday, 8:30am – 11:00am, Pack the 9th Circuit! Stop Trump’s Asylum Ban

9th Circuit Court
95 7th St.,
Courtroom 1, 3rd Floor, Rm. 338

Arrive before 9:00am

The court will hear arguments in our case to block Trump’s asylum transit ban.

After multiple victories to halt the new rule, in September the Supreme Court temporarily sided with Trump while the 9th Circuit considers East Bay Sanctuary Covenant v. William Barr, thus blocking folks who must transit through a third country from seeking asylum in the United States.

As you all know, the policy is part of a larger effort to effectively end the ability of immigrants of color to seek protection in the United States. We must continue to fight against this atrocious program and organize for just solutions instead.

Hosts: Innovation Law Lab, East Bay Sanctuary Convenant, Al Otro Lado, Caracen SF


6. Monday, 9:00am, Press conference for #HousingJusticeVillage

Oscar Grant Plaza
14th St. & Broadway

Hear from the unhoused & housed advocates/organizers, hear from unhoused oakland residents who have had their homes destroyed and vehicles towed, hear from the unknowing bystanders who were swept up in the arrests, find out how we were treated by police and jail guards, hear our response to the city’s silly press statement, find out what our next steps are.

Come for the press conference, stay for a day of education.

Info: Village in Oakland #feedthe people

7. Monday, 5:00pm – 6:00pm, World AIDS Day Candlelight Vigil

Meet at:

SF AIDS Foundation
1035 Market St.

Participate in a Candlelight Vigil to commemorate World AIDS Day with San Francisco AIDS Foundation. We will walk from 1035 Market Street to City Hall. Candles will be provided.


8. Monday, 5:00pm – 12:00am, MARIO WOODS 4th Angelversary

5:00pm – 8:00pm at 3rd St. & Fitzgerald, SF (where Mario was executed by SFPD)

   Open mic for artists with words for Mario. Bring love, poetry, offerings, sage and candles.

9pm-12am 518 Valencia St, SF
   Hosted by EQUIPTO
   Live music, food, refreshments and community.


9. Monday, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, JCV General Community Meeting

Justice Coalition of Vallejo
1220 Georgia St.

We will be meeting at 1220 Georgia Street. Tentatively on the agenda is to debrief our 11/26 action, discuss necessity to go back to City Council Meetings, next trainings and next actions.


10. Monday, 6:00pm – 8:00pm, Raíces Youth Cohort Report Back

Instituto Familiar de la Raza Inc.
2919 Mission St.

RAÍCES Youth Cohort Report Back
The members of our RAÍCES Youth Cohort will be hosting this event where they will be reporting back on their recent, life-changing journey and cultural exchange with young artists and activists in Mexico City.

There will be: ART, PHOTOS, VIDEO, POETRY  and FOOD


Tuesday, December 3

11. Tuesday, 10:00am – 11:00am, Tell EPA: Stop Air Pollution from the Dirty Plastic Industry

75 Hawthorne St.


Rising plastic production in the United States is spewing toxic air pollution into frontline communities, fueling the climate crisis with carbon emissions, and harming our oceans.

The plastic industry is currently planning to expand their North American production by at least 35 percent by 2025. And some of the biggest projects are ethane cracker plants, which pollute nearby communities by turning fracked gas into single-use, throwaway plastics.

Join us to deliver a legal petition signed by more than 300 groups to the U.S. EPA demanding they do their job and curb air pollution from the dirty plastic industry.

Bring a sign and a friend, and help us make our voices heard loud and clear!

Host: Center for Biological Diversity


12.  Tuesday, 5:30pm – 9:30pm, City Council to allow Vallejo PD to destroy documents!

555 Santa Clara

5:30pm –Press Conference

6:00pm – Meetomg

The Vallejo city council is holding a special meeting on December 3rd to consider the shredding of documents. They will have automatic purge cycles for city email and calendar records. They will destroy old records.Make no mistake, this is a direct response to the passing of SB1421, Public Records Act request.

Justice Coalition of Vallejo


13. Tuesday, 5:30pm – 10:00pm, No Coal at the Council!

440 Civic Center Plaza

T shirts, pizza, and talking points in the parking lot at 5:30, doors open at 6, meeting starts at 6:30.

Round trip transportation available: email us at and put “Transportation 12/3” in the subject line.

the Richmond City Council votes whether to phase out coal and petroleum coke (pet coke) handling and storage at the Levin-Richmond Terminal. The State Building Trades say they’ll bring 500 construction workers to the hearing!!

Because coal and pet coke dust affect children most of all, many of us will be bringing our kids—within a mile of the terminal, there are 5 schools with a combined total of 1,789 children!

Richmond residents, business owners, workers, and health professionals: Please come testify about health impacts, visible dust, lost business, and other concerns. Be sure to mention past or present union membership. For talking points, please email and put “City Council testimony” in the subject line.

Hosts: No Coal Richmond + 9 Other groups

Info:  or

Wednesday, December 4

14. Wednesday, 3:00pm – 5:00pm, Soul of the City: Our Grandparents Deserve an Affordable Home!

SF City Hall
1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Place


Our grandparents deserve truly affordable homes–they shouldn’t pay more than 30% of their income on rent.

Host: Faith in Action Bay Area


15. Wednesday, 5:30pm – 8:30pm, Movement Lessons Since the Battle of Seattle (1999)

The Greenlining Institute
360 14th St.

To register, click here:

Happy Hour from 5:30 to 6pm

ADA accessible space.
• We will do our best to provide a reduced scent space and will designate a fragrance-free seating area. Please support our efforts to support the participation of community members with chemical sensitivities by coming to the class as low- or no-scent as you are able.
• To request language interpretation, CART transcription, childcare, or other access needs, please include that information on the registration form.

On November 30, 1999, more than 40,000 activists spanning organized labor, climate justice, migrant justice, indigenous organizing, the peace movement, and the global justice movement, joined forces to disrupt the trade negotiations scheduled to take place at the World Trade Organization (WTO) conference in Seattle. Inspired by mass mobilizations across Asia, Africa, and Latin America against neoliberal policies developed by the WTO and similar financial institutions, the takeover of downtown Seattle re-energized the fight against neoliberalism and strengthened international alliances.

Twenty years later, in the context of an intensified neoliberal offensive by the same institutions and revived resistance against them in countries such as Ecuador, Chile, Lebanon, and Haiti, this panel discussion will help us analyze the events and organizing that led up to Seattle, take stock of the movements and alliances that grew out of that mobilization, and draw lessons from the past two decades that will set our movements up for more decisive wins.

Confirmed speakers include:

Confirmed speakers include:
Colin Rajah, International Coordinator of the Civil Society Action Committee
Sharon Lungo, Former Executive Director of the Ruckus Society
Bill Fletcher Jr., Former president of TransAfrica Forum

Endorsing organizations: Catalyst Project and Bay Resistance


16. Wednesday, 6:30pm, Food Not Bombs Food Sharing – Every Wednesday

16th & Mission
BART Plaza

We are resuming weekly sharings on Wednesdays at the 16th/Mission BART Plaza

We will prepare and cook at St. John The Evangelist Church, 1661 15th Street (at Julian) beginning at

   4:00 PM every Wednesday, except for the 4th Wednesday of the month                               

We will continue preparing and cooking at Station 40, 3030B 16th Street (between Mission and Julian) beginning at

   3:00 PM on the 4th Wednesday of the month

We always need volunteers.  


17. Wednesday7:00pm – 9:00pmDon’t Register For War: Legacy of Anti-War Actions

UC Berkeley
126 Barrows Hall

Wheelchair accessible

Please avoid wearing scents

Presentations and discussions on the legacy of past and present anti-war actions focusing on strategies to consider for the future. What is the future of anti-war activism? How do we stop the war machine?


David Miller  In October, 1965, David Miller, a Catholic pacifist affiliated with the Catholic Worker movement, was the first publicly to burn his draft card after the new law against this action went into effect. He spent 2 years in prison as a result

Edward Hasbrouck  ( One of millions of young men who refused to register with the Selective Service System in the 1980s, and one of only nine people imprisoned for organizing resistance to the registration law before enforcement was abandoned.

Maxina Ventura  From Anti-nuke activism at UCLA, to D.C. lobbying, involvement in Plowshares Disarmament actions, blocking munitions trains and trucks at the Concord NWS, Nevada Test Site actions using decentralized organizing with affinity groups and spokescouncils, to the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Labs 1993 Shadow Painting action (with 2-months and solitary confinement for refusing to accept any restrictions to full freedom)

Liam Curry  6 year Navy submarine veteran, volunteered with Food Not Bombs after first Gulf War, became active with People’s Park movement during UC’s attempt to develop the park. Joined Veterans For Peace at the start of the second Gulf War. Worked on counter recruitment and various anti-war programs with Veterans For Peace

Soul (Susan B. Rodriguez) At 14 founded first homeless project, Hayward. At 15 was President of Brown Berets, Hayward. Co Founded Free Lunch, Hayward, and Berkeley Liberation Radio 104.1fm. 1990 Anti Nuclear Dove of Peace Disarmament Action. People’s Park Activist 1990-present. Founded Murals of Life N Hope, W. Oakland, G.I. Suicide Awareness Campaign, Co Founded Occupy Oakland, Marine Recruitment Action, Berkeley, and works with Restorative Justice, Oakland

Niusha Hajikhodaverdikhan is a 20-year old artist, and UC Peace and Conflict studies student. From Nezamabad, Tehran, Iran, her family, deeply affected by the U.S. sponsored Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), she investigates war crimes using open-source investigation at UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Center. Her work in academia, art, and community focuses on mutual aid, decolonization, and 3rd world liberation with an anti-capitalist, anti-fascist approach. 

Hosts: People’s Park Committee, Berkeley People’s Park

Info:  or

18. Wednesday, 7:30pm – 9:30pm, Shaping SF Public Talk: Seattle/WTO Shutdown—20th Anniversary

The Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics
518 Valencia St. (nr. 16th St)

FREE – Donations appreciated

On November 30, 1999 the World Trade Organization was prevented from meeting in Seattle by unprecedented phalanxes of self-organized protesters who filled the streets, tied up key intersections, blockaded the convention center, and used video and the internet in ways they’d never been used before. Bay Area activists were in the middle of it all, and veterans of that experience will revisit that moment to help us rethink this moment.

With Anuradha Mittal, David Solnit, Eddie Yuen, Steve Stallone, and Starhawk.


Extinction Rebellion

XR Unchained (

As we face an unprecedented planetary crisis, XR Rebels from around the world continue their inspiring actions.

Morecambe Bay, UK. Fifty rebels aged 7 to 70 made this 110m diameter representation of the XR logo in the sand to highlight the need for urgent climate action. Photo: Alison Cahn.

Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Palestine. Read a retrospective from October on the position of XR in Palestine.

Vancouver, Canada. Rebels demand that the University of British Columbia divest from fossil fuel investments.

Santiago, Chile. XR Santiago held its own assembly to discuss the complicated socio- environmental situation in Chile.

Paris, France. Indigenous Brazilians were in Paris to demonstrate against French institutions helping to finance destruction of the Amazon. They performed a protest dance outside the headquarters of the Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP).

Copenhagen, Denmark. XR Rebels in Denmark expose the naked truth about oil extraction in the North Sea at the Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities.

Venice, Italy. Following yet another devastating acqua alta flood on November 13, Venetian rebels perform a die-in.

Truro, UK. XR rebels protest a Cornwall Council decision to grant £10.32m of capital funding to the proposed Newquay spaceport in Cornwall. Photo: Ilya Fisher.

‘Existential Threat to Civilization’: Planetary Tipping Points Make Climate Bets Too Dangerous, Scientists Warn

November 28, 2019 by Common Dreams

“I don’t think people realize how little time we have left,” said one co-author of a new paper warning that the systems of the natural world could cascade out of control sooner than was previously thought.

by Jon Queally, staff writer

While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) introduced the idea of tipping points two decades ago, the paper notes,  it was long believed that what climatologists refer to as "large-scale discontinuities" in the planet's natural system were "considered likely only if global warming exceeded 5°C above pre-industrial levels." According to the researchers, however, more recent information and data—including the most recent IPCC summaries—suggest these frightening "tipping points could be exceede

While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) introduced the idea of tipping points two decades ago, the paper notes,  it was long believed that what climatologists refer to as “large-scale discontinuities” in the planet’s natural system were “considered likely only if global warming exceeded 5°C above pre-industrial levels.” According to the researchers, however, more recent information and data—including the most recent IPCC summaries—suggest these frightening “tipping points could be exceeded even between 1 and 2 °C of warming”—that means this century, possibly within just decades. (Photo: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Image by Reto Stöckli)

Citing an “existential threat to civilization,” a group of top climate scientists have put out a new paper warning that the latest evidence related to climate tipping points—when natural systems reach their breaking point and cascading feedback loops accelerate collapse—could mean such dynamics are “more likely than was thought” and could come sooner as well.

In the paper, published as a commentary in the journal Nature on Wednesday, the group of researchers summarize the latest findings related to the threat of tipping points as part of effort to “identify knowledge gaps” and suggest ways to fill them. “We explore the effects of such large-scale changes,” the scientists explain, “how quickly they might unfold and whether we still have any control over them.” 

“We’ll reach 1.5°C in one or two decades, and with three decades to decarbonize it’s clearly an emergency situation.” —Owen Gaffney, Stockholm Resilience Center

While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) introduced the idea of tipping points two decades ago, the paper notes, it was long believed that what climatologists refer to as “large-scale discontinuities” in the planet’s natural system were “considered likely only if global warming exceeded 5°C above pre-industrial levels.” According to the researchers, however, more recent information and data—including the most recent IPCC summaries—suggest these frightening “tipping points could be exceeded even between 1 and 2 °C of warming”—that means this century, possibly within just decades.

“I don’t think people realize how little time we have left,” Owen Gaffney, a global sustainability analyst at the Stockholm Resilience Center at Stockholm University and a co-author of the paper, told National Geographic.  “We’ll reach 1.5°C in one or two decades, and with three decades to decarbonize it’s clearly an emergency situation.”

Gaffney added, “Without emergency action our children are likely to inherit a dangerously destabilized planet.”

According to the paper:

If current national pledges to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions are implemented—and that’s a big ‘if’—they are likely to result in at least 3°C of global warming. This is despite the goal of the 2015 Paris agreement to limit warming to well below 2°C. Some economists, assuming that climate tipping points are of very low probability (even if they would be catastrophic), have suggested that 3°C warming is optimal from a cost–benefit perspective. However, if tipping points are looking more likely, then the ‘optimal policy’ recommendation of simple cost–benefit climate-economy models4 aligns with those of the recent IPCC report2. In other words, warming must be limited to 1.5 °C. This requires an emergency response.

Among the key evidence that tipping points are underway, the paper highlights a litany of global hot spots where runaway warming could unleash—or is already unleashing—dangerous feedback loops. They include: frequent droughts in the Amazon rainforest; Artic sea ice reductions; slowdown in Atlantic Ocean currents; fires and pests in the northern Boreal forest; large scale coral reef die-offs; ice sheet loss in Greenland; permafrost thawing in Eastern Russia; and accelerating melting in both the West and East Antarctic.

In an interview with the Guardian, Professor Tim Lenton at the University of Exeter, the lead author of the article, said: “As a scientist, I just want to tell it how it is. It is not trying to be alarmist, but trying to treat the whole climate change problem as a risk management problem. It is what I consider the common sense way.”

“This article is not meant to be a counsel of despair. If we want to avoid the worst of these bad climate tipping points, we need to activate some positive social and economic tipping points [such as renewable energy] towards what should ultimately be a happier, flourishing, sustainable future for the generations to come.” —Prof. Tim Lenton, University of Exeter

Citing campaigners around the world, including young people this year who kicked off global climate strikes, Lenton acknowledge that these people understand what world leaders seem unwilling to accept or act upon.  “We might already have crossed the threshold for a cascade of interrelated tipping points,” Lenton said. “The simple version is the schoolkids are right: we are seeing potentially irreversible changes in the climate system under way, or very close.”

In their paper, the scientists write that “the consideration of tipping points helps to define that we are in a climate emergency and strengthens this year’s chorus of calls for urgent climate action—from schoolchildren to scientists, cities and countries.”

Despite the frightening warnings and the scale of the threat, the researchers are not trying to be doom-and-gloomers who say that nothing can be done.

In his comments to the Guardian, Lenton said, “This article is not meant to be a counsel of despair. If we want to avoid the worst of these bad climate tipping points, we need to activate some positive social and economic tipping points [such as renewable energy] towards what should ultimately be a happier, flourishing, sustainable future for the generations to come.”

But the paper makes clear that the climate emergency is here in very profound ways.

“In our view, the evidence from tipping points alone suggests that we are in a state of planetary emergency: both the risk and urgency of the situation are acute,” the paper states. The researchers even provide a mathematical risk equation:

The group of scientists also acknowledge that some in the scientific community believe their warnings exceed what the available evidence shows when it comes to the threat of tipping points or the timeline:

Some scientists counter that the possibility of global tipping remains highly speculative. It is our position that, given its huge impact and irreversible nature, any serious risk assessment must consider the evidence, however limited our understanding might still be. To err on the side of danger is not a responsible option. 

If damaging tipping cascades can occur and a global tipping point cannot be ruled out, then this is an existential threat to civilization. No amount of economic cost–benefit analysis is going to help us. We need to change our approach to the climate problem.

The Guardian spoke to Professor Martin Siegert at Imperial College London, about the researchers’ paper and whether or not its warning comes in too heavy. “The new work is valuable,” Siegert said. “They are being a little speculative, but maybe you need to be.”

In the end, the new paper’s conclusion was twofold: more needs to be known about these crucial tipping points and that only urgent action can stave off the urgent threat an increasingly hotter world.

“We argue that the intervention time left to prevent tipping could already have shrunk towards zero, whereas the reaction time to achieve net zero emissions is 30 years at best,” the paper states. “Hence we might already have lost control of whether tipping happens. A saving grace is that the rate at which damage accumulates from tipping—and hence the risk posed—could still be under our control to some extent. “

“The stability and resilience of our planet is in peril,” it concludes. “International action—not just words—must reflect this.”

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Slow Jam the News with Senator Bernie Sanders

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Jimmy Fallon and Senator Bernie Sanders slow jam the news, discussing the issues that matter most in the 2020 presidential race and his plans for America’s neglected bottom half. Subscribe NOW to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Watch The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Weeknights 11:35/10:35c Get more The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon:

Public bank activist to take on Wiener in 2020 state Senate race

Jackie Fielder with the SF Public Bank Coalition speaks on Tuesday Nov. 12, 2019 at a rally where Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer announced legislation to create a city public bank. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Indigenous organizer’s platform includes tenant protections, free education, health care

An indigenous organizer who has been at the forefront of the public bank movement is hoping to give incumbent state Sen. Scott Wiener a run for his money in his 2020 bid for re-election.

Jackie Fielder, a San Francisco State University lecturer and waitress who lives in a van, on Monday pulled papers to run against the incumbent senator in the March 2020 election. The March election is a state senate primary and the top two vote getters advance to the November general election.

“I’m running because it think it’s time that we have an outside candidate, especially a woman of color who is openly queer as well, challenge a real estate-backed elected official,” Fielder told the San Francisco Examiner on Friday.

Wiener, a 49-year-old former San Francisco supervisor who is openly gay and aligned with The City’s moderate faction and Mayor London Breed, won the seat in a hard-fought race against former Supervisor Jane Kim in 2016.

While Fielder, 25, is new to the world of electoral politics, she has worked to put in motion legislative changes in how San Francisco invests its money.

Earlier this month, Supervisor Sandra Fewer introduced legislation that would establish a nine-member task force to create a business plan for launching a public bank. Fielder is co-founder of the San Francisco Public Bank Coalition, which was instrumental in pushing for the legislation as part of an effort to divest from Wall Street banks that fund projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Two years ago, Fielder also helped lead indigenous resistance against the construction of the pipeline, which was viewed as a threat to North Dakota’s Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The Long Beach, Calif., native founded the San Francisco Defund DAPL Chapter and hit the road in her van to educate supporters on passing local laws to cut ties with Wells Fargo, a major investor in the pipeline.

Fielder also had a short cameo in a 2018 Maroon 5 music video called “Girls Like You,” during which she hammered her message home by wearing a T-shirt with the words “Divest, Water is Life.”

Similarly, Fielder has rallied with the “No on Proposition H” campaign, which opposed a San Francisco Police Officers Association-backed measure that last year sought to loosen the Police Department’s policies on the use of Tasers.

Fielder said that she is running on a platform that supports statewide rent control, tenant protections, free public universities, setting the minimum wage at $20 across the state and single-payer health care.

“I think we can easily pay for all of that and more by taxing the ultra-wealthy,” she said, adding that she is clearly not expecting “any contributions from landlord associations, real estate developers, fossil fuel companies, police unions, wall street banks, PG&E or billionaires.”

Fielder’s campaign is likely to resonate with housing justice activists who have criticized Wiener’s politics for potentially fueling gentrification and displacement. He is the primary author of Senate Bill 50, a bill encouraging denser development near transit that was blocked in the state legislature earlier this year.

Since Wiener has taken office, he has passed 36 bills that were signed into law, including SB 35, which streamlines the approval process for housing in cities not meeting their housing goals, and SB 1045, which expands state conservatorship laws.

“I’m proud of the 36 pieces of legislation I’ve passed into law to create more affordable housing, to help people struggling with homelessness, mental health, and addiction, to reform our criminal justice system, to expand access to health care, and to protect immigrants,” Wiener told the Examiner. “I’m also proud to have co-authored the recently enacted statewide rent cap and just cause eviction protections. In recognition of our work, Cal Matters rated me as one of the most progressive members of the Legislature.”

Wiener said that he welcome “all candidates to the race and look forward to a robust dialogue on the issues facing the residents of San Francisco and northern San Mateo County.”

Quentin Kopp, a retired judge and former state senator and San Francisco city supervisor, previously emerged as a challenger to Wiener after pulling papers in March. However, he was disqualified from the race after a legal opinion determined that he has already served the maximum three terms allowed for the state Senate, the San Francisco Chronicle reported last month.

Green Party member Barry Hermanson has also pulled papers to run for Wiener’s seat. The two candidates with the highest votes in the March Primary will advance to the November General election.

Fielder said that she knows what it’s like to experience housing insecurity. She currently lives in her van and couch surfs with friends.

She said that her current address is registered as an intersection in District 5.

“I am able-bodied and I have an income, unlike a lot of unhoused people, so I’m more on the upper scale of the unhoused situation. I have it a lot better than many people who are on the streets,” she said.

Fielder said that she does not believe that the lack of a fixed address will hurt her campaign.

“I think what we are seeing in California and nationwide is a general impatience and low tolerance for people in suits who talk a lot and don’t put their money where their mouth is,” she said. “I think that’s pretty much a general sentiment regardless of party.”

State Sen. Scott Wiener won his seat in 2016 after a heated race against former Supervisor Jane Kim. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Amid National Surge, New Poll Shows Bernie Sanders Top Democrat in New Hampshire

November 27, 2019 by Common Dreams

“Bernie is in the pocket of #BigUs,” supporters are saying. “Pass it on.”

by Jon Queally, staff writer

Vermont senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders campaigns at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. (Photo: Preston Ehrler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Vermont senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders campaigns at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. (Photo: Preston Ehrler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Enjoying a national upswing this week—including a return to second place in the Real Clear Politics poll average and in a new poll out Wednesday—Sen. Bernie Sanders also now leads in the key early state of New Hampshire, according to a new state survey.

According to the Emerson poll released Tuesday, Sanders is now in first place with 26% followed by South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg in second with 22%, and former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren tied for third with 14% each.

Dramatic in the results of the tracking poll was the swing among the top four candidates since it was last conducted in September, with Sanders up 13 points and Buttigieg up 11 points, while Warren and Biden dropped 6 and 10 points respectively.

Spencer Kimball, director of Emerson Polling, said “the Democratic voters have taken a look at Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren and they appear unsatisfied at this time which brought some voters back to Bernie Sanders while others are now moving to a fresh face in Pete Buttigieg, this demonstrates the fluidity of the race.”

According to Emerson:

Sanders has retaken a strong lead among those under 50 in New Hampshire, now leading with 38% support among that group. Following him among younger voters is Warren at 16%, Buttigieg at 12% and Biden at 8%. Buttigieg leads with those 50 and over with 32% support, followed by Biden with 19%, Sanders with 15% and Warren with 11%.

Sanders holds a stronger lead among registered Democrats as he garners 31% support among this group, followed by Buttigieg and Biden with 17%, and Warren with 15%. Among independents, Buttigieg leads with 29% support, followed by Sanders with 21%, Warren with 12% and Biden with 10%.

Looking within ideology, Sanders leads within those who are very liberal with 47% support, followed by Warren with 18%, Buttigieg with 12%, and Biden with 7%. Among those self-described as somewhat liberal, Buttigieg leads with 28% support, followed by Sanders with 25%, Warren with 18% and Biden with 12%. Among moderate/conservative voters, Buttigieg leads with 23% support, followed by Biden with 18%, Sanders with 17% and Gabbard with 11%.

As members of the Sanders campaign noted, the Emerson poll emerged just one day after the New York Times ran a headline—titled “Did New Hampshire Fall Out of Love With Bernie Sanders?“—that strongly suggested the senator’s star was falling in the early voting New England state. Campaign speechwriter David Sirota tweeted:

And Mike Casca, the campaign’s communication director, said wryly: “I read somewhere recently that New Hampshire fell out of love with Bernie.”

Meanwhile, on the national level, the Real Clear Politics poll average showed Sanders had returned to second place behind Biden, pushing Warren back to third place with Buttigieg still at a distant fourth. The average, which incorporates national polls taken up through Nov. 25th, showed Biden leading nationally with 28.2%; followed by Sanders with 17.8%; Warren with 16.7%; and Buttigieg with 10.5%.

Following that trend, a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS released Wednesday showed Biden in the lead with 28% followed by Sanders in second place with 17% percent of support among registered Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents. Warren holds the third spot with 14% while Buttigieg comes in last among the top tier with 11%.

Notably, as CNN points out, Sanders enjoys the trust of most voters when it comes to the key issues of the climate crisis and healthcare:

On health care, 28% say Sanders—an advocate of “Medicare for All” and the elimination of private health insurance—would best handle the issue. That’s about even with the 26% who choose Biden, who has argued against moving to a completely government-run system. Another 19% say they prefer Warren’s approach, which ultimately results in government health coverage for all, while 7% choose Buttigieg, and no other candidate has the backing of more than 3% on the issue.

Sanders leads the way more clearly on handling the climate crisis: 27% favor his approach, followed by 21% who prefer Biden and 15% Warren.

In an edition of the Sanders campaign’s Bern Notice newsletter sent Tuesday, Sirota noted that his candidate is now surging nationally but also pointed to the early voting states where, in addition to New Hampshire, Sanders is gaining ground.

“A new poll shows that since early October, Bernie has gained a whopping 9 points in the early primary and caucus states that could play a pivotal role in the 2020 election,” Sirota wrote. “As of today, Bernie is at 23 percent—and just 3 points behind Joe Biden—in Morning Consult’s tracking poll of Democratic voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.”

In Iowa on Tuesday, the campaign released a new ad focused on the state that featured a new rallying cry for the campaign: “Big Us.”

“Bernie is in the pocket of #BigUs,” supporters online were saying as they shared the ad and the message on social media. “Pass it on.”

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If Medicare for All ‘Too Risky,’ How Would NYT Have Reported Push for Social Security, Abolition, or the Overthrow of King George III?

November 27, 2019 by Common Dreams

If this is how they cover the effort to secure health care as a human right, I began to wonder how  the Times editorial staff cover other momentous changes in American history.

by Mark Dudzic

A middle-aged man reading the ‘New York Times’ in an armchair in this archive image. (Photo: George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

On Tuesday of this week, the New York Times posted this headline:


As one of the dozens of articles emanating from political establishment organs—including the Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal—these pieces can be taken as an indicator of how much distress the growing movement to win Medicare for All is causing  Washington insiders. And you can always count on the “paper of record” to find the appropriate “leaders,” “officials,” and “staffers” to weigh in with appropriate gravitas.

So it got me to wondering.  How would the Times editorial staff cover other momentous changes in American history? A quick search of the imaginary web—which operates in my mind—came up with these tidbits:

‘Social Security Too Risky,’ Democratic Party Leaders Say

NYT: March 1, 1935) — Responding to President Roosevelt’s vow to push for the passage of Social Security in the recently convened Congress, several Democratic leaders urged caution.  “This could really screw things up for the 1936 election cycle,” said one.  A prominent financial backer of the party added, “We’ve already stabilized the banking industry and Wall Street is running smoothly again. I don’t see what the urgency is.” Officials are suggesting that Congress would be better off adopting a “Social Security for Those Who Want It” plan.  Under the plan, every American would have the freedom to choose to purchase a government-backed retirement plan underwritten by America’s largest investment banking operations.

‘Abolition Too Risky,’ Republican Party Leaders Say

NYT: December 12, 1864) — Responding to President Lincoln’s vow to push for the passage of a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery in his second term, several Republican leaders urged caution.  “This could play right into the hands of our opponents and really hurt our electoral prospects in the midterms,” said one. A prominent financial backer of the party added, “The Confederates are on the run and the war will soon be over. I don’t see what the urgency is.  What we really need is a plan to stabilize the cotton industry because Egypt is eating our lunch.”  Officials are suggesting that Congress would be better off adopting the “Abolition for Those Who Want It” plan.  Under the plan, enslaved Americans would have the choice to purchase their freedom or remain enslaved. Family plans would be available and generous financing terms would be underwritten by America’s largest investment banking operations.

‘Independence Too Risky,’ Tory Leaders Say

(NYT: July 5, 1776)—Responding to the Continental Congress’ Declaration of Independence, several Tory leaders urged caution.  “We were hoping to promote moderate Brits to run for Parliament and help gain more favorable treatment for the colonies,” said one. “This declaration will just piss them off.” A prominent financial backer of the party added, “We’ve already been able to resolve most of our trade issues with the Crown.  I don’t see what the urgency is.” Officials are suggesting that the Continental Congress consider the “Independence for Those Who Want It,” plan.  Under the plan, the Northwest Territories would be opened up for settlement by those who support independence with the promise that a later Parliament will give serious consideration to any petition that they may submit requesting independence.  The government would back land purchases in the territories with generous financing terms underwritten by America’s largest investment banking operations.

Mark Dudzic

Mark Dudzic is a longtime union activist and former national organizer of the Labor Party. He currently serves as national coordinator of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer Healthcare. Follow the LCSP on Twitter: @LaborforSPayer