Party-Crashing for the Climate: On Monday, over 500 protesters gathered outside of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York, where a fundraiser for Obama was underway, to demand that the president reject the permit to build the Keystone XL Pipeline. The crowd also expressed their opposition to local natural gas pipelines such as the Spectra and Rockaway pipelines. Representatives from Hurricane Sandy relief organizations, asserting the connection between climate change and disasters like Sandy, and demanding that local and national government commit to a transition to clean energy. The event was sponsored by a broad coalition of local and national environmental and social justice organizations, who have begun turning out large crowds to nearly all of Obama’s public events to demand that the president take a stand against the proposed pipeline.
Bus Ads Promote Palestinian Rights: Public buses throughout Seattle have beenemblazoned this week with messages advocating “Equal Rights For Palestinians: The Way To Peace.” The messages are sponsored by the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, whose ad campaign stretches back to 2010 and also run in local Seattle print weeklies. The campaign has also taken aim in the past at Israel’s segregated transportation and education systems and denounced American aid to Israeli military occupation, sparking controversy in Washington state and around the country.
Indignados Turn Two: On May 12, thousands gathered in Madrid, Barcelona and 30 other cities throughout Spain to mark the second anniversary of the nation’s ‘indignados’ protest movement. Last month, unemployment hit record levels of near-30% in the debt-scarred country. Protesters carried signs on Sunday insisting “the fight continues” and asserting “together, it’s possible.” The movement, which sparked Occupy and similar protests around the world, continues its resistance in the face of planned austerity measures, including tax hikes and pay cuts for public sector workers.
Rolling Jubilee Gains Momentum: Last week, Strike Debt activists announced that they have purchased and forgiven over $1 million in medical debt. The Rolling Jubilee campaign, launched earlier this year, used donations to forgive the emergency room bills owed by 1,000 randomly chosen people in Kentucky and Indiana, acquired for “pennies on the dollar.” Strike Debt has also launched a national week of action to demand cancellation of the country’s medical debt.
Palestinians Unwelcome Obama: On Wednesday, over a hundred Palestinians erected a 15-tent village on a hilltop in the disputed E1 area of the West Bank to protest Barack Obama’s visit to the region. The demonstration represented the latest in a series of Palestinian tent cities erected in defiance of Israel’s plans to build about 4,000 settlement housing units in the controversial E1 area, which would bisect the West Bank and compromise the territorial integrity of a future Palestinian state. Palestinian activists assert that the Obama administration has rubber-stamped this state of affairs.
Chicago Students Fight Book-Banning: Nearly 400 students at Chicago’s Lane Tech College Prep School attempted to stage a sit-in on Monday to protest the Chicago Public School’s removal of the graphic novel series ‘Persepolis’ from its seventh-grade curriculum. The demonstration, organized through Facebook and other social media, started at 8 a.m. with students flooding the hallways, and was broken up twenty minutes later by faculty, who locked the library doors to prevent students from entering. CPS officials say they removed the series of autobiographical novels–which depict the life of a young Iranian woman before, during and after the country’s Islamic revolution–due to their use of strong language and scenes of graphic violence. According to American Libraries, CPS has backtracked on the decision to remove the book from libraries, which students and faculty said amounted to censorship: “Chicago Public Schools (CPS) chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett has reversed a directive to pull Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, from CPS libraries, though she maintains the book is not appropriate for 7th graders and should be removed from classrooms.”
Tar Sands Week of Action: Environmental activists staged a ‘Stop Tar Sands Profiteers’ week of action nationwide to protest companies profiting from the destruction that could be caused by the Keystone XL Pipeline. In New Orleans on March 17, protesters blocked buses full of oil executives headed to the Howard Well Energy Conference, and disrupted corporate dinners throughout the French Quarter. On March 21st, 20 religious leaders from several denominations led an interfaith demonstration at the White House, followed by one at the Canadian Embassy. All in all, over 30 events were planned and executed by over 50 grassroots organizations opposed to the pipeline and the corporations that profit from it.