Aug 31 2011

The Activist Beat – 08/31/11

Activist BeatThe Activist Beat with Rose Aguilar, host of Your Call on KALW in San Francisco is a weekly roundup of progressive activism that the mainstream media ignores, undercovers, or misrepresents.

It’s Day 11 of the Keystone XL oil pipeline protests in Washington. Over 595 environmentalists and concerned citizens have been arrested for peacefully expressing their views in front of the White House.

Keystone XL is the $7 billion pipeline that will carry 500,000 barrels of dirty tar sands a day from Alberta, Canada down to Texas oil refineries.

Because so many people have been arrested, this action is finally getting national media attention, but not as much as it deserves. On Monday, Dr. James Hansen, a top NASA climate scientist, was arrested with 139 others.

In June, Dr. Hansen said the tar sands would mean “game over” for the planet when combined with greenhouse gases from coal. Before he was arrested on Monday, he said, “If Obama chooses the dirty needle it will confirm that the President was just green washing all along, like the other well-oiled coal-fired politicians, with no real intention of solving the addiction.”

The big names have received attention, but concerned citizens who’ve traveled from places like Montana, Louisiana, and Nebraska have been ignored in most media coverage.

Last week, several members of the Gulf Restoration Network, including Cherri Foytlin were arrested. Cherri is a mother of six who walked from New Orleans to Washington, DC in April to raise awareness about the ongoing BP oil disaster. Speaking from experience, she said, “Once you give it away, they take it all. It’s not about jobs. It’s about life. That’s the most important thing.”

In a piece about her arrest, she writes: “I was number 26 arrested that day, the last of the women, out of over 50 participating.
As they took our info, they loaded us tight into a barely air conditioned police van – eight woman in a row on one side, eight more on the other, with an iron wall between us. It was tight, and hot, and claustrophobia held us for a few seconds, before the women on the other side of the van, who we could not see, began singing.
Singing beautiful words, about not being stopped, about the folly of taking our bodies to lock up while our spirits ran free. It was beautiful. That is unity, I saw it, and it came to me through misty eyes.”

A group of doctors from Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility were arrested in their white lab coats, along with Nebraskan landowners and farmers who will be directly impacted.

Brian Parras, co-founder of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, told Think Progress that he’s most concerned about the impact the pipeline and oil-infrastructure will have on communities of color and low-income and uninsured populations in Texas.

Yesterday on Air Force One, a reporter asked President Obama’s press secretary Jay Carney if the President is aware of the protests. He said, “I haven’t talked to him about it.”

Over the past week and a half, hundreds of people have been arrested for peacefully expressing their views and the President hasn’t been briefed? Who knows if he’s telling the truth, but the message it sends is pretty clear. The administration continues to be out of touch with the people. The arrests, which are barely being questioned, will continue through the end of the week.

And here’s another upcoming action you should know about.

Tomorrow, nurses across the country will visit members of Congress in 60 districts to call for a Wall Street speculation tax. National Nurses United Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro says, “It’s time for Wall Street financiers, who created this crisis and continue to hold so much of the nation’s wealth, to start contributing to rebuild this country, and for the American people to reclaim our future.”

National Nurses United says the Wall Street Speculation Tax could raise $175 billion a year. Actions are taking place in 20 states across the country. Find more information at nationalnursesunited.org.

Rose Aguilar for Uprising.

3 responses so far

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