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Community members in San Benito are hoping they will be the first "frontline" county in California to ban fracking and other methods of extreme oil and gas extraction. Since late March, volunteers across the county have begun collecting signatures for a fracking ban initiative they hope to have on the ballot in November. Progress is moving quickly; after two weeks of collecting signatures, the organization San Benito Rising announced they were nearly halfway through their drive.
Homeless activist Robert Norse was removed by police from the Santa Cruz City Council meeting on April 1 when he attempted to record the public session in the same manner he has for many years. Long time council member, and first time mayor, Lynn Robinson decided that evening Norse would be arrested and cited for disrupting the meeting when he twice attempted to leave his recording device "unattended" in the area of the room where he thought he could create the highest quality recording.
Homeless people in downtown Fresno can no longer set up encampments. They must put up a tent in the evening and take it down early in the morning. During the day, they have to stay with their property or it will be taken and put into storage. On March 6, the Fresno City Council passed an ordinance that makes it easier for the police to remove shopping carts from the homeless. These “quality of life” ordinances add pressure to be constantly on the move and never have a place to stay that is safe and secure.
On March 4, one hundred and forty-nine public speaker's cards were turned in prior to the Oakland City Council meeting. Public comment was unanimous against a city-wide Domain Awareness Center. Nevertheless, council members passed a resolution at about 1am on March 5 to proceed with a scaled-down Port-only version of the DAC. From the public galleries in council chambers, calls of "shame, shame, shame" rang out after the vote to continue development of the DAC.
The corporate media's narrative on the opposition protests in Venezuela is that the Venezuelan government caused this crisis, because it is a dictatorship that has ruined the economy in a failed attempt to impose Cuban style socialism. In San Francisco, activists gathered for a rally at the 24th and Mission BART Plaza on February 17, to protest the one-sided media coverage. Another event on March 6 featured a reportback from Venezuela and commemorated the one-year anniversary of the death of President Hugo Chavez.
On March 1, people from around the world in over 27 cities took to the streets in solidarity to participate in a global day of action, billed as the March Against Corruption. In San Francisco, over a hundred people came out to protest the corrupting influence of big money in politics. A number of local musicians and activists spoke out about a range of issues, from the global environmental crisis to the war in Iraq, "connecting the dots" between their own struggles and the underlying issue of government corruption by big money.
A new state bill that would impose a moratorium on fracking has been introduced as California reels from a record drought. The intention of the bill is to protect California’s air and water from pollution caused by this form of oil and gas extraction. SB 1132 calls for a moratorium on all forms of "extreme well stimulation," including hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and acidization until a comprehensive, independent and multi-agency review exploring the economic, environmental and public health impacts is complete.