A big thank you to all of the Popular Resistance activists who participated in the activities in New York and at home this past week around the climate talks. It was great to meet you! Now that the talks are over, many are asking what to do now.
The climate march drew 310,000 people concerned with a variety of issues and with varied political views. Some people took action the day before the event conducting“climate disruption investigations” at two Manhattan branches of PNC Bank or participating in the NY Climate Convergence. The day after the march a large resistance action took place in the Wall Street financial district, #FloodWall Street, when 3,000 people surrounded the Wall Street Bull with a massive sit-in and disrupted traffic for 8 hours. As Jaisal Noor of The Real News reported the protest targeted climate profiteers on Wall Street. Dennis Trainor, Jr. concluded we need both the mass march of Sunday and Monday’s resistance action for an effective movement.
When the UN meeting began, people from the Climate Justice Alliance were refused entry to talk to world leaders. But world leaders did meet with dirty energy corporations behind closed doors, leading people to demand that Big Oil be kept out of climate negotiations because their profits conflict with climate justice.
Some major philanthropies announced the Global Divest-Invest Coalition with $50 billion in assets that will be removed from the fossil fuel sector and placed in clean energy investments instead. And, the Backbone Campaign announced the Buffett Legacy project which is seeking to have Warren Buffett invest in “solutionary” rail that transports people and goods rather than oil and coal; and does so on clean electric trains. Read more about the project and write Warren Buffett here.
The UN and US sell-out to big climate profiteers led Chris Hedges to predict a “coming climate revolt.” People know that it is the fossil fuel industries—not technology nor economics—that prevent essential action on climate change. Bruce Covert reports that they have lots of money to buy politicians with: “The five largest — BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell — made $48.6 billion in profits combined in the first half of this year and $93 billion last year, or $177,000 each minute.” Long-time activist, Arun Gupta admonishes us to develop a strategy to win – something we do not have. Australian environmental and justice activist, Robert Burrowes, tells us it is a waste of time to beg our oppressors and our actions are not about feel good marches – but about acting with a strategic impact. He provides concrete actions that people can take here.
Here are more calls for action: Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council issued a statement which urged people to not put “our trust in governmental leaders and the leaders of industry.” People who came to NYC for the first World Conference of Indigenous Peoples urged that oil and gas be left in the ground and highlighted how Indigenous peoples all over the world are already fighting against extraction. Faith leaders pledged global action for climate justice. Green activists Jill Stein and Ben Manski are calling for a global climate strike as “a next step in the international uprising that insists that another world is possible.” And, a coalition of groups announced consecutive days of action in Washington, DC and elsewhere beginning after the elections. Ilana Solomon of Sierra Club warned that a tipping point for climate are the corporate trade agreements being negotiated and the movement needs to work to stop their enactment. Food and Water Watch urged people to join their Global Frack-Down because methane gas is worse for the climate than carbon.
While people were marching for climate justice, President Obama began bombing Syria. This is another illegal war as he does not have congressional or United Nations’ authorization to attack Syria. The Prime Minister of Britain was warned that bombing Syria would be illegal, but the UK has decided to go to war regardless of the law. At the climate march, especially at the NYC Climate Convergence, people learned how war and climate interrelate, not only are most wars fought for domination of carbon fuels, but the US military is the largest institutional climate polluter on the planet yet the US does not include the carbon it produces in the measures of total emitted by the US. There are lots of reasons to oppose war – the climate crisis is one more.
Not only is the War on ISIS illegal under domestic and international law, but it is a dumb war. As Phyllis Bennis says bombing extremism doesn’t work because it creates more extremism. Patrick Cockburn writes “US policy has an Alice in Wonderland absurdity about it, everything being the opposite of what it appears to be” and says Obama still does not have a strategy to deal with ISIS, even though he is bombing Syria and Iraq. In fact, as Nafeez Ahmed documents, it was the Western governments and their allies in the Gulf who created ISIS. Expanded radicalization represented by ISIS is a classic blowback to a violent and mistaken US policy in the region. Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report describes ISIS as a “boogeyman of America’s own making.”
As the US declares war against a creation of its previous wars, Brave New Films notes “America has been invading, bombing, cruise missiling, and droning countries for decades, and terrorism hasn’t gone away. Congress and the President need to stop and think – how does this end?” They answer the question – “it doesn’t.” This is perpetual war as the US continues a cycle of violence. In fact, while the War on ISIS is getting the attention, the reality is the US has Special Forces operating 134 nations around the world.
But, as bad as it is, it could get worse. This week it was reported that Obama is planning a massive increase in nuclear arms, this from the President who campaigned for “a nuclear-free world” and made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy. The increased spending on nuclear arms is projected to cost $1 trillion dollars.
People are protesting these wars. The day after the bombing, five people with Campaign Nonviolence (which held hundreds of actions throughout the country) were arrested at the White House as they tried to deliver a letter to President Obama. John Kerry was protested by CODE PINK when he has testified about the War on ISIS, Popular Resistance and CODE PINK protested Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey when the testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Veterans For Peace has also come out against the new war saying “Veterans know from first-hand experience that you cannot bomb your way to peace.”
Recently, we lost young veteran Jacob George, someone for whom we have much love and respect. Jacob served three tours in Afghanistan and the experience left him with deep traumatic injuries that led to his death. Jacob bicycled to Freedom Plaza for the Occupation of Washington, DC, played music for us and participated fully. He touched many people in his all-to-short life. He is one of so many tragic stories not only of people who die in war – US military as well as those in the more than 100 countries where the US military operates – but those who return home and find they cannot return to a normal life. Military suicides are greater than combat deaths.
People Rise Up For Education
This week more than 20 national education and civil rights advocates sent a letter to Department of Defense officials, urging them to stop giving U.S. school police department’s military equipment including anti-mine vehicles, military-grade firearms like M16s, and even grenade launchers. Popular Resistance joined with nearly fifty educators, writers, and prominent activists in a national call to save public education from militarism and corporate influence as these trends “will weaken the primacy of civilian rule and, ultimately, our country’s commitment to democratic ideals.”
The attack on public education is escalating. In York, PA people are protesting an unprecedented plan to privatize all public schools. In Chicago, eleven people were arrested at a sit-in in the Chicago mayor’s office opposing plans to close a high school. Students in suburban Denver walked out of classrooms because a new curriculum was being required that would essentially, falsify US history. Under the proposal students would only be taught lessons depicting American heritage in a positive light. The issues raised outside Denver are part of a national trend.
At the college level, the Koch Brothers are using their money to influence which professors are hired, the curriculum and even who will be the president of a university. Students and faculty are protesting this at Florida State University, but we hear similar reports at other universities. The Charles Koch Foundation has donated to 300 universities and the agreement they make with universities regarding what they get in return is not made public – even at public universities.
Also, sexual assault in colleges has become a focus of protests. At Columbia University a student has been carrying her mattress with her to protest the lack of action against someone she has accused of sexual assault and has been joined by other students doing the same. At the University of Chicago students protested that a list of alleged perpetrators was published before being found guilty of anything. In India, at Calcutta’s Jadavpur University a protest against sexual assault is entering its third week with students boycotting classes and 25,000 marching through Calcutta.
In Ferguson the anger over the Michael Brown killing continues. Chief Jackson issued an apology to the family of Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson. He also said that if he did not do enough to protect the right of protest he was sorry. When he began to march with Ferguson residents, a scuffle broke out between police and protesters resulting in arrests. Many protesters feel his apology is too little, too late and want him to resign.
Activists in Ferguson and St. Louis have asked people to come to Ferguson this October 10-13 to join them in protest. This was the time when the grand jury was supposed to decide whether or not to indict the police officer who shot Michael Brown, but the grand jury has been extended until January. No doubt authorities hope the community will calm down by then.
The US Department of Justice is already reviewing the fatal shooting in Ferguson and this week announced it will review a killing by police in a Walmart in Ohio. Videotape was made public that showed the police almost immediately shot John Crawford III who was holding a BB gun. A grand jury in Ohio refused to indict the police officers involved.
Attorney General Holder announced his resignation this week. One of the few areas where the Department of Justice improved under his watch was the investigation of police abuse and killings. Holder reacted to public pressure as the number of killings and abuse across the country escalated. Not only are individual cases being investigated but he has also appointed a task force to look into the issue of police use of force, weapons and handling of the mentally ill.
Kevin Zeese in his role as Attorney General for the Green Shadow Cabinet reviewed Holders’ tenure and was critical of his many failures to prosecute bankers, corporate criminals and torturers, providing legal cover for the use of drones, failing to investigate the NSA, attacks on whistleblowers and journalists and not stopping the crackdown on people exercising their First Amendment rights during the occupy movement. Zeese applauded his steps toward winding down the drug war. The Guardian review of Holder’s record emphasized that he was a better friend to Wall Street than the people. The Guardian points out that Holder came from the law firm of Covington & Burling which represents many large banks and financial institutions.
As usual there is more to report than we can in one weekly newsletter. For another summary of recent resistance actions check out this report from Lee Camp “Activists Are Standing Up” which aired on Redacted Tonight his show that airs on RTAmerica.