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Center Column Archives
President Obama was in Mountain View on May 9 to promote initiatives that expand solar energy use. He had special praise for Walmart because it uses some forms of alternative energy. Labor advocates protested outside the megastore where the president spoke, saying that Walmart is anti-union, keeps workers' wages low, and provides few benefits.
On April 2, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Shaun McCutcheon et al in McCutcheon v Federal Elections Commission. Responding immediately, a crowd gathered at Palo Alto's City Hall to demonstrate against the decision, which clears the way for even more private money to enter the electoral system. One SF Peninsula protester said, "If you thought Citizen's United was selling our democracy down the money pit, check out the McCutcheon vs. FEC ruling handed down today!"
In a victory for ocean wildlife, federal fishery managers in Sacramento on March 13 decided not to expand driftnet fishing into protected sea turtle habitat along the California coast because it would significantly raise the risk of capture and drowning of endangered whales, sea turtles and dolphins. But the Pacific Fishery Management Council failed to take direct action to remove driftnets from the California coast, though the gear is banned in Oregon and Washington.
The Center for Biological Diversity reached a settlement agreement on March 11 with the California Department of Parks and Recreation that will substantially increase protections in the Santa Cruz Mountains for the marbled murrelet, an endangered seabird that nests in old-growth forests. The settlement requires the agency to reduce dangers posed by visitor trash, which harms murrelets by unnaturally increasing the abundance of predators that eat eggs and chicks.
On February 26 in East Palo Alto, about 250 people marched through the intersection in front of IKEA. Seven activists risked arrest, locking arms and standing (sometimes sitting) in the middle of a major intersection. Union and immigrant rights activists called out Juvenal Chavez, owner of nearby Mi Pueblo, for betraying his own undocumented immigrant roots by participating in the Department of Homeland Security program E-Verify that screens the immigration status of new hires.
On March 1, urban farmers demonstrated at Sprouts grocery chain locations in Petaluma, Fremont, Sunnyvale, and Mountain View. The farmers oppose plans to develop the Gill Tract. Boycott Sprouts is asking shoppers to patronize other stores until Sprouts backs away from the development deal. On March 5, the Albany City Council approved paving six acres of the Gill Tract. In response to the council's vote, Occupy the Farm has called for a rally on March 12
On February 18, Common Cause and Forecast the Facts spearheaded a demonstration on Google headquarters property in Mountain View, California. They were bolstered by the presence of activists including the Raging Grannies and members of Occupy Mountain View. The protesters called out Google for its membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a lobbying group linked to climate change denying legislation, "Stand Your Ground" laws, and other extreme right wing agenda items.