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Joining a global day of protest against Monsanto and the genetically modified food it produces, protesters rallied in the cities of Merced, San José, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco on May 25. Around the world protests were held in more than 400 cities, giving popular voice to the growing outrage over Monsanto's agribusiness practices that put small farmers out of business and public health at risk.
In a precedent-setting victory for fracking opponents, a federal judge ruled that the Obama administration violated the law when it issued oil leases in Monterey County without considering the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing. U.S. Magistrate Paul Grewal of the U.S. District Court in San Jose ruled on March 31 that the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sold the leases without properly assessing the threat that fracking could pose to water, fish and wildlife. Some of these leases are within the Salinas River watershed, a habitat for endangered Central Coast steelhead.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the controversial, environmentally destructive process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at high pressure in order to release and extract oil or gas. Many Delta advocates believe that the peripheral tunnels proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) will be used to deliver water to expand fracking operations in Kern County and coastal areas.
The ruling responded to a suit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club that challenged a September 2011 BLM decision to auction off about 2,500 acres of land in southern Monterey County to oil companies. “This important decision recognizes that fracking poses new, unique risks to California’s air, water and wildlife that government agencies can’t ignore,” said Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Center, who argued the case for the plaintiffs. “This is a watershed moment — the first court opinion to find a federal lease sale invalid for failing to address the monumental dangers of fracking.”
Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, said the Tribe strongly opposes the tentative approval of genetically engineered salmon by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “The Winnemem Wintu object to GE production, as it would certainly impact our obligation to salmon and would change the traditional responsibility to salmon and our relationship that exists for thousands of years," Sisk said.
The Winnemem Wintu Tribe, fishermen, and environmental groups are currently fighting federal government plans to raise Shasta Dam, as well as the FDA’s approval of genetically modified fish. They argue that the dam would result in the flooding of many of the Tribe’s sacred sites and it's expansion, planned in conjunction with the construction of Governor Jerry Brown’s peripheral tunnels, would lead to the extinction of Central Valley salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt and other imperiled fish species.
“It must be recognized as an inherent right of Indigenous Peoples for the Winnemem Wintu to hold the salmon as a relative that is so intrinsic to our culture," Sisk said. "There are complete eco systems based on the clarity, knowledge and health of the salmon."
Read More | Winnemem Wintu Tribe | See Also: Winnemem Wintu Tribe: Speak out against the raising of Shasta Dam
| Conservation groups, Winnemem Wintu appeal reduction of salmon protections
| Winnemem Wintu leader will speak on salmon at Fisheries Forum
| Winnemem Wintu hold salmon ceremony at Glen Cove
| Winnemem Wintu Leaders in New Zealand to Call McCloud Salmon Home
| Winnemem Wintu Tribe Urges Feinstein to Withdraw Salmon Killer Legislation
An eviction of a significant number of homeless people at a downtown encampment in Fresno was expected to take place on February 14th. According to residents of the homeless encampment, located near Monterey and E street, they were told by the owner of the property they are living on that they had until that day to “move on.” The owner of the lot was accompanied by several officers from the Fresno Police Department and a truck & crew from the Fire Department. One homeless man said that the owner of the property threatened to bulldoze the vacant lot and destroy everything. The landlord said to "get the fuck out of here."
The eviction by the owner did not happen. This is not unusual and has become a pattern in Fresno. What usually happens is that a property owner may or may not care that homeless people are living on his property. He or she is contacted by someone from the City of Fresno (usually code enforcement or the police) and they are told they have to do something about the homeless encampment on their property. The threat of sending in a bulldozer created enough anxiety among the homeless that at least half of them moved away, which was the desired result. If the city and property owner can get the homeless to leave, without bringing out the bulldozer, that is a win for them. A fire of unknown origin in the encampment on the morning of February 14th cleared the remaining people from the area.
Fresno has no Heart - Will Evict the Homeless on Valentines Day |
Burning the Homeless out
On February 14th, 2013, cities across the globe joined the One Billion Rising campaign to stop violence against women and girls. In Northern California, participating cities included Fresno, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Oakland, and San Francisco. One Billion Rising began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls. Activists, writers, thinkers, celebrities, and women and men worldwide joined together to express their outrage, demand change, strike, dance, and rise in defiance of the injustices women suffer, demanding an end at last to violence against women. The event was organized by V-Day
, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of playwright/founder Eve Ensler's award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works.
San Francisco |
SF: Dance Across the Golden Gate Bridge |
SF: Dance through the Streets for a Culture of Consent |
SF: Rise Beyond Borders |
Women Rising in Los Altos |
One Billion Rising Santa Cruz |
Idle No More in Solidarity with V-Day
To show support for the Idle No More movement, on January 26th a statewide rally was held on the steps of the California State Capitol in Sacramento. On the 27th Ohlone and other individuals of Californian Native American ancestry held a flash mob in San Francisco at the Westfield Mall, where activists asked, "What are you going to do, not to idle anymore?"
Solidarity actions to coincide with the Canadian MPs return to the House of Commons were called for January 28th by the founders of the Idle No More movement in Canada, one of whom, Sylvia McAdam, spoke to the group at the capitol building via cell phone. "Our work is not done, because once the waters are contaminated here in my people's territory it will effect the waters of your people where you are because we all share the same water," she said.
"I hope that we will continue this until our indigenous sovereignty is respected and utilized every day, because that is what is going to protect our lands and our waters," McAdams said.
In San Francisco, Corrina Gould spoke after the Idle No More flash mob, asking, "How are we going to stand together not just for their treaty rights, but for ours as well. How do we become people that are recognized on our own land?"
Many California Tribes and Nations Represented at Capitol for Statewide Idle No More Rally | Ohlone Support Idle No More with Flash Mob at San Francisco Mall
On January 26, over 400 people from all over California descended on the rural Central Valley town of Chowchilla to protest the horrendous conditions in the notorious prison, Central California Women’s Facility. Close to 4,000 women are currently warehoused in the facility designed for 2,000.
Despite threats of retaliation, prisoner advocacy organizations Justice Now and California Coalition for Women Prisoners received over 1,000 declarations from people inside CCWF and the nearby Valley State Prison for Women (VSPW) highlighting a lack of basic medical care, increased tension and conflicts among prisoners due to crowding, increased lock downs, and seriously reduced access to jobs, programs and legal resources. People inside CCWF are calling the treatment of prisoners and their conditions 'gender discrimination' and a violation of their civil and human rights.
“Californians should care about this issue because we are talking about the importance of people’s lives. People die because of the inadequate medical help,” says Theresa Martinez, of Justice Now who spent 23 years of her life locked in California prisons. “Taxpayers are paying to keep warehousing people instead of figuring out how to set them free.”
Read More and View Photos | More Photos | See Also: Who Are We to Judge?
| Inhumane Treatment of Prisoners in Chowchilla
On December 12th, dozens of protesters rallied outside a federal auction in Sacramento against plans to lease more than 17,000 acres of California public land to oil companies for drilling and fracking. Demonstrators fear that opening up thousands of acres of public land to oil and gas exploration would directly undercut the state's commitment to clean and renewable energy and endanger an already threatened water supply. Land spanning Monterey, San Benito and Fresno counties lies on what is known as the Monterey Shale, a formation of underground minerals. Oil and gas companies are targeting this expanse for hydraulic drilling.
A post by Vallejo Copwatch entitled "Vallejo Police Officer who murdered Mario Romero has been identified" states that "On September 2, 2012, Mario Romero was approached and gunned down while sitting in his parked car in front of his home by a Vallejo Police Officer, identified by multiple witnesses as Officer Dustin B. Joseph (age 32)." The post additionally lists a number of prior complaints against officer Joseph reportedly found in public records.
Attorney David E. Mastagni of the Sacramento law firm Mastagni, Holstedt, Amick, Miller & Johnsen has demanded that the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center (Indybay) remove the post by Vallejo Copwatch. It is unclear on whose behalf the overly broad demand was made as it requests that Indybay "remove any and all information pertaining to public safety officers employed by the City of Vallejo." The Indybay Collective has no intention of removing the post.
Read More | Vallejo Copwatch
Six months ago, local Occupy movements arrived at one of Monsanto corporation's Davis facilities at 6 a.m. Monsanto sent a message to their plant's workers to not come into work. The protest educated the public and initiated a conversation as a general assembly brainstormed solutions to Monsanto's corrupt ties with the government, unethical business practices, destruction of the environment, as well as the production of unhealthy food.
Local activist groups and Occupy movements plan to shutdown the Davis Monsanto plant once again, as part of the international shutdown Monsanto action, on Monday, September 17th
at 6:00 a.m. at the corporation’s facility at 1920 5th Street in Davis. Guest speakers will include Cindy Sheehan and Al Rojas. Sandra McDougle and the Fresh Juice Party will perform original songs for the action. Education, music, art and food will be provided.
Read More | Over 60 Occupy Monsanto Actions Planned for the Week of Sept 17th
Previous Coverage: Mobilize Against Agriculture Privatization in Sacramento: June 2003
|| Reclaim the Commons in SF, June 2004
|| Biodemocracy 2005: Reclaim the Commons in Philadelphia
|| Global Days of Action to Shut Down Monsanto, March 2012
|| Hundreds of Farmers Occupy UC Berkeley's Gill Tract in Albany
|| Yes on Prop 37 March in Santa Cruz to Label Genetically Engineered Foods
5PM Sunday Jun 30
5PM Saturday Jul 20
Merced Art Hop