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The farm worker movement mourns the passing on June 7, 2015, of Rev. Deacon Sal Alvarez, who played a key role with Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta in the farm worker movement and on behalf of many other worthy causes over seven decades. Sal was motivated by deep faith in a movement grounded in the Catholic Church’s social justice teachings and dedication to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
After earning a masters degree in social work from UC Berkeley and working with the U.S. Catholic Conference, Sal met Cesar Chavez in the late 1960s, while working with the Bishops Committee on Farm Labor. He became a United Farm Workers researcher in 1976, and was soon assigned as legislative aide to Dolores Huerta, with whom Sal forged a close working relationship for decades.
Sal spent years at the state Capitol in Sacramento, battling industry attempts to dismantle the historic Agricultural Labor Relations Act. He also worked on abolishing the short-handled hoe, winning workers compensation for farm workers and pushing UC to provide relief for agricultural workers displaced by its mechanization research.
Read More | United Farm Workers
Environmental groups petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to protect the Humboldt marten under the California Endangered Species Act. The Humboldt marten is a cat-sized carnivore related to minks and otters that lives in old-growth forests in Northern California and southern Oregon. Most of the marten’s forest habitat has been destroyed by logging, and the remaining martens in California likely number fewer than 100 individuals.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence took the lead in organizing a protest held in front of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California on June 1. Sister Roma said that it's time Mark Zuckerberg realized that identity is fluid. She and about 100 others traveled from San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area to Silicon Valley to demand that the social media company remove the fake-name reporting option and stop asking users for government IDs.
The outrage over the bottling of California water by Nestlé, Walmart and other big corporations during a record drought has become viral on social media and national and international media websites over the past couple of months. On May 20, people from across the state converged on two Nestlé bottling plants — one in Sacramento and the other in Los Angeles — demanding that the Swiss-based Nestlé corporation halt its bottling operations during the state’s record drought.
At the protests, activists delivered 515,000 signatures from people in California and around the nation who signed onto a series of petitions to Nestlé executives, Governor Brown, the California State Water Resources Control Board and the U.S. Forest Service urging an immediate shutdown of Nestlé’s bottling operations across the state.
Led by the California-based Courage Campaign, the protest was the third in Sacramento over the past year. The first two protests were "shut downs" this March and last October organized by the Crunch Nestlé Alliance.
Read More |
Photo essay of protest against Nestlé in Sacramento
Previous Related Indybay Feature:
Activists 'Shut Down' Nestlé Water Bottling Plant
On May 24, the 35th anniversary of Food Not Bombs was marked with a six hour party in Santa Cruz. Those needing nourishment were greeted with live music and an especially celebratory atmosphere, in addition to free food, a free market, and a variety of other free services. By combining social and environmental justice activism, nonviolent direct action, and a philosophy that emphasizes sharing over charity, Food Not Bombs has differentiated itself from other global organizations that distribute food to the hungry.
On May 23, families and loved ones of people in solitary confinement, and advocates from community organizations, held the third Statewide Coordinated Actions To End Solitary Confinement (SCATESC) throughout California. In Santa Cruz, about 25 people rallied at the entrance to the Municipal Wharf, where locals and tourists found two large banners, storyboards exposing the realities of solitary confinement, signs, and educational literature about solitary confinement in Santa Cruz and California.
The first successful Santa Cruz County referendum in 13 years has suspended an ordinance adopted by the County Board of Supervisors to ban all commercial cannabis cultivation. The ban was adopted on April 14, and was to go into effect on May 15. Responsible Cultivation Santa Cruz circulated the referendum and after only 21 days filed 11,210 signatures with the county. 7,248 valid signatures are required to qualify the referendum for the ballot.
On May 2, Native American community members and Interfaith supporters, including clergy leaders, demonstrated outside of Mission Dolores in San Francisco to oppose the impending canonization of Junipero Serra by the Catholic church. Pope Francis has reaffirmed his decision to name Junipero Serra a saint, despite strong opposition from Native Americans who say the man is responsible for the killing of hundreds of thousands of Indigenous people when he helped to establish and then presided over the California mission system in the 1700s.
"My ancestors were directly enslaved at Mission Dolores here, and at Mission San Jose in Fremont, and I want to make sure that the Vatican knows that we, and Native people allies, do not agree with the canonization of Junipero Serra," said Corrina Gould, who is of Karkin and Chochenyo Ohlone ancestry. Individuals of Coastal Miwok and Chumash ancestry, two other Californian tribal groups gravely affected by the establishment of the mission system, also spoke at the demonstration. The event was part of an "International Day of Mourning" which was organized to coincide with the Catholic church's celebration to honor Juipero Serra in Rome and at the American seminary in Los Angeles on May 2.
"Today we stand together in solidarity to say: No sainthood for Junipero Serra. No sainthood for genocide. No sainthood for murderers and rapers. We are saying this in a loud and proud way," Corrina Gould said in her introductory remarks.
Read More with Photos | See Also: Petition: Urge Pope Francis to abandon his decision to canonize Junipero Serra
A coalition of environmentalists on April 20 blasted Beverly Hills billionaire Stewart Resnick and other corporate agribusiness interests for continuing to plant thousands of acres of new almond trees during the drought while Governor Jerry Brown is mandating that urban families slash water usage by 25 percent.
“While farmers make their own decisions on what to plant, the public is paying the price for poor decisions made by greedy mega-growers, who plant permanent crops where there is no water,” Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, told reporters in a news conference about the “tunnels only” version of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) that Governor Jerry Brown is now pushing. “That is not sustainable and the tunnels would subsidize unsustainable agriculture.”
Barrigan-Parrilla said Resnick, the owner of Paramount Farms in Kern County, uses as much water for his almonds as the amount of water 38 million Californians are now required to conserve. At this year’s annual pistachio conference hosted by Paramount Farms, Resnick revealed his current efforts to expand pistachio, almond, and walnut acreage during a record drought.
Stewart Resnick expands almond acreage as cities forced to slash water use
Governor Brown's drought order lets agribusiness, oil companies off the hook
Drought legislation must target agribusiness and Big Oil
Drought Shows Folly of Jerry Brown's Delta Tunnels
Will drought relief money be used to support overpumping Delta water?
House Passes Salmon-Killing Drought Relief Bill
Feinstein delays controversial drought legislation until next year
Feinstein's fish-killing drought bill being negotiated in secrecy
Meet the Resnicks, the Koch Brothers of California Water
Brown fails to discuss wholesale draining of reservoirs in drought statement
Brown declares drought state of emergency as protesters urge halt to fracking
Previous Related Indybay Features:
Activists 'Shut Down' Nestlé Water Bottling Plant
Steelhead Suffer From Emptying of Northern California Reservoirs
"Sucked Dry: Drought and Privatization" Art Show Shut Down by GMO Dean at UC Berkeley
3 Billion Gallons of Oil Industry Wastewater Illegally Dumped into Central Valley Aquifers
Reducing Beef Intake by One Pound Saves More Water Than Not Showering for Six Months
Suppliers of Driscoll’s, which may be the U.S.’s most recognizable brand name on strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and blackberry cartons, are coming under fire for allegedly abusing workers, in the U.S. and Mexico. One Driscoll’s grower has spent weeks embroiled in a major farmworker protest, while a nearly two-year boycott against another grower recently intensified. Workers in both disputes have called for a boycott against the company.
In response to a 2012 petition by the Center for Biological Diversity and several renowned scientists and herpetologists, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on April 9 that Endangered Species Act protection may be warranted for the western pond turtle. The agency will now conduct a one-year status review on the turtle, which faces declines of up to 99 percent in some areas.
Western pond turtles are declining in abundance rangewide, especially in the northernmost portion and the southern third of the range. The animals are listed as state endangered in Washington, sensitive/critical in Oregon, and a species of special concern in California. Although habitat destruction is one of the biggest threats to the turtle, none of these state laws provides effective habitat protection.
“Threats like habitat destruction from urbanization and agriculture are driving western pond turtles toward extinction,” said Collette Adkins, a Center biologist and lawyer. “Much-needed federal protection of these turtles would help ensure that rivers and wetlands across the West Coast are protected, both for the turtles and for people.”
Read More | Center for Biological Diversity | See Also: Western Pond Turtle More Critically Endangered Than Once Thought
| Endangered Species Act Protection Sought for 16 Rare Amphibians and Reptiles in California
A new report released by Californians for Pesticide Reform asserts that fumigant pesticides are an outdated, toxic technology that undermines soil health, and safe replacements are needed to grow food on the Central Coast of California. The report examines data that revealed cancer-causing chloropicrin is in the air where Monterey County children live and play, and shares monitoring results that confirm chloropicrin in the city of Watsonville’s air poses an increased cancer risk, despite state required “safer tarps” and "buffer zones".
Holding plastic “torches” and “pitchforks,” activists formed human barricades at both entrances to the Nestlé Waters bottling plant in Sacramento at 5:00 a.m. on March 20, effectively shutting down the company's operations for the day. Members of the “Crunch Nestlé Alliance" shouted out a number of chants, including ”We got to fight for our right to water,” “Nestlé, Stop It, Water Not For Profit," and “¿Agua Para Quien? Para Nuestra Gente.” The protesters stayed until about 1 pm, but there were no arrests.
The only oil company to sue San Benito County over a local ban on fracking and other high-intensity petroleum operations announced on April 6 it has dropped its lawsuit, leaving the voter-approved ordinance in place. Citadel Exploration’s decision to dismiss its own case means that local fracking bans in California face no remaining active legal challenges, despite threats from the oil industry.
A newly completed assessment has found that monarch butterflies in North America are vulnerable to extinction. The assessment was undertaken by NatureServe and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and results were published in a report
released by the U.S. Forest Service on March 9.
NatureServe and the Xerces Society used NatureServe’s conservation status assessment methodology to determine the level of imperilment of the monarch. The methodology has been successfully applied to hundreds of species of animals. Using data on population abundance, trends, and threats, the team of scientists determined that while the monarch butterfly species as a whole, Danaus plexippus, is apparently secure, the subspecies occurring in North America, Danaus plexippus plexippus, is vulnerable to extinction. Under the assessment, the North American monarchs were split into an eastern population that migrates from as far north as southern Canada to central Mexico each fall, and a smaller western population that largely migrates to coastal California to spend the winter. The eastern monarch population was assessed as “critically imperiled” due to recent rapid decline and widespread threats. The western population, with a slightly slower rate of decline and less widespread threats, was categorized as “vulnerable to imperiled.”
“Our findings show that even a widespread and common insect can face dramatic population declines in an alarmingly short period of time,” said Bruce Young, NatureServe’s Director of Species Science. “The time is now to intensify continent-wide efforts to reduce the threats to this iconic species and prevent it from succumbing to the fate that has befallen far too many other species.”
Read More | The Xerces Society | NatureServe
Previous Coverage: Monarch Butterfly Moves Toward Endangered Species Act Protection
Autonomous Students UCSC write:
Before dawn on March 3, a group of six students at the University of California Santa Cruz went to the fishhook connecting Highways 1 to 17. Evoking the practice of highway blockades popularized during the Black Lives Matter movement, they chained themselves to aluminum trashcans filled with cement and blocked traffic for nearly five hours. The traffic jam this caused stretched over the hill to snarl Silicon Valley commutes, an act of peaceful civil disobedience that has since become the most controversial of the “96 Hours of Action” declared across the UC system for the first week of March, in protest against tuition hikes and police violence.
On March 24, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 before an overflowing room to ban the cultivation of cannabis in all unincorporated territories of the county, with limited exceptions. Personal grows of 10×10 square feet are still permitted, with restrictions. Outdoor cultivation is entirely banned in the 2nd District, represented by Zach Friend, and includes the communities of Aptos, Corralitos, Freedom, and portions of Watsonville.
On March 23, coordinated actions were held statewide in California to oppose the use of solitary confinement in prisons and jails. Protests were planned for Eureka, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. In Santa Cruz, community members gathered on West Cliff Drive for a rally and candlelight vigil. Organizers say future actions will continue to be held statewide on the 23rd of each month to symbolize the 23 hours per day prisoners in solitary are held in the "complete isolation" of their cells.